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My dear Lord Stair, 

It gives me very great pleasure to avail myself of 
this opportunity of marking the deep sense I entertain of the 
steady friendship with which you have so long honoured me, by 
requesting you to accept of the Dedication of this Work, from 

Your most sincerely attached, 





As the general plan and intention of my first publication have been a 
good deal misunderstood, I wish to give a short account of them both. 

The title itself might have shown that I aimed at something more 
than a mere book of gardening ; some, however, have conceived that I 
ought to have begun by setting forth all my ideas of lawns, shrubberies, 
gravel-walks, &c. ; and as my arrangement did not coincide with their 
notions of what it ought to have been, they seem to have concluded that 
I had no plan at all. 

I have in this Essay undertaken to treat of two subjects, distinct but 
intimately connected ; and which, as I' conceive, throw a reciprocal light 
on each other. I have begun with that which is last mentioned in the 
title, as I thought some previous discussion with regard to pictures and 
picturesque scenery would most naturally lead to a particular examina- 
tion of the character itself. In the first chapter, I have stated the 
general reasons for studying the works of eminent landscape painters, 
and the principles of their art, with a view to the improvement of real 
scenery ; and in order to show how little those works, or the principles 
they contain, have been attended to, I have supposed the scenery in the 
landscape of a great painter, to be new modelled according to the taste 
of Mr. Brown. Having shown this contrast between dressed scenery 
and a picture of the most ornamented kind, I have in the second chap- 
ter compared together two real scenes ; the one, in its picturesque un- 



improved state ; the other, when dressed and improved according to the 
present fashion. The picturesque circumstances detailed in this scene, 
very naturally lead me, in the third chapter, to investigate their general 
causes and effects; and in that, and in the six following chapters, I 
have traced them, as far as my observation would enable me, through 
all the works of art and of nature. 

This part, the most curious and interesting to a speculative mind, 
will be least so to those who think only of what has a direct and im- 
mediate reference to the arrangement of scenery. That, indeed, it has 
not ; but it is a discussion well calculated to give just and enlarged 
ideas, of what is of no slight importance — the general character of each 
place, and the particular character of each part of its scenery. Every 
place, and every scene worth observing, must have something of the 
sublime, the beautiful, or the picturesque; and every man will allow, 
that he would wish to preserve and to heighten — certainly not to weaken 
or destroy — their prevailing character. The most obvious method of 
succeeding in the one, and of avoiding the other, is by studying their 
causes and effects ; but to confine that study to scenery only, would, 
like all confined studies for a particular purpose, tend to contract the 
mind ; at least, when compared with a more comprehensive view of the 
subject. 1 have therefore endeavoured to take the most enlarged view 
possible, and to* include in it whatever had any relation to the character 
I was occupied in tracing, or which showed its distinction from those 
which a very superior mind had already investigated; and sure I am, 
that he who studies the various effects and characters of form, colour, 
and light and shadow, and examines and compares those characters and 
effects, and the manner in which they are combined and disposed, both 
in pictures and in nature, will be better qualified to arrange — certainly 
to enjoy — his own and every scenery, than he who has only thought of 
the most fashionable arrangement of objects ; or who has looked at 
nature alone, without having acquired any just principles of selection. 

I believe, however, that this part of my Essay, and the very title of it, 
may have given a false bias to the minds of many of my readers. I am 
not surprised at such an effect, for it is a very natural conclusion, and 
often justified, that an author is partial to the particular subject on which 
he has written ; but mine is a particular case. The two characters which 



Mr. Burke has so ably discussed, had, it is true, great need of investi- 
gation ; but they did not want to be recommended to our attention : 
what is really sublime, or beautiful, must always attract or command 
it ; but the picturesque is much less obvious, less generally attractive, 
and had been totally neglected and despised by professed improvers : 
my business, therefore, was to draw forth and to dwell upon those less 
observed beauties. From that circumstance it has been conceived, or 
at least asserted, that I not only preferred such scenes as were merely 
rude and picturesque, but excluded all others. 

The second part is built upon the foundations laid in the first; for I 
have examined the leading features of modern gardening, in its more 
extended sense, on the general principles of painting ; and I have shown 
iu several instances, especially in all that relates to the banks of artifi- 
cial water, how much the character of the picturesque has been neglected, 
or sacrificed to a false idea of beauty. 

But though I take no slight interest in whatever concerns the taste 
of gardening in this and every other country, and am particularly anxious 
to preserve those picturesque circumstances, which are so frequently and 
irrecoverably destroyed, yet in writing this Essay, I have had a more 
comprehensive object in view. I have been desirous of opening new 
sources of innocent and easily attained pleasures, or at least of point- 
ing out how a much higher relish may be acquired for those, which, 
though known, are neglected ; and it has given me no small pleasure to 
find, that both my objects have in some degree been attained. 

That painters do see effects in nature which men in general do not 
see, we have, in the motto prefixed to this Essay, the testimony of no 
common observer ; of one who was sufficiently vain of his own talents 
and discernment in every way, and not likely to acknowledge a superi- 
ority in other men without strong conviction. It is not a mere obser- 
vation of Cicero ; it is an exclamation: Quam multa vident pictores ! 
It marks his surprise at the extreme difference which the study of na- 
ture, by means of the art of painting, seems to make almost in the sight 
itself. It may likewise be observed, that his remark does not extend 
to form — in which the ancient painters are acknowledged to be our 
superiors ; not to colour — in which they are also conceived to be at our rivals ; but to light and shadow — the supposed triumph of 



modern dver ancient art : on which account, the professors of painting 
since its revival, have a still better right to the compliment of so illus- 
trious ;i panegyrist, than those of his own age. 

If there were no other means of seeing with the eyes of painters, than 
by acquiring the practical skill of their hands, the generality of man- 
kind must of course give up the point ; but luckily, we may gain no 
little insight into their method of considering nature, and no inconsider- 
able share of their relish for her beauties, by an easier process — by 
studying their works. This study has one great advantage over most 
others ; there are no dry elements to struggle with. Pictures, as likewise 
drawings and prints, have in them what is suited to all ages and capa- 
cities ; many of them, like Swift's Gulliver's Travels, display the most 
fertile and brilliant imagination, joined to the most accurate judgment 
and selection, and the deepest knowledge of nature ; like that extra- 
ordinary work, they are at once the amusement of childhood and ignor- 
ance, and the delight, instruction, and admiration, of the highest and 
most cultivated minds. 

It is not, however, to be supposed, that theory and observation alone 
will enable us to judge either of pictures or of nature, with the same 
skill as those who join to the practical knowledge of their art habitual 
reflection on its principles, and its productions. Between such artists 
and the mere lover of painting, there will always be a sufficient differ- 
ence to justify the remark of Cicero ;* but by means of the study which 
I have so earnestly recommended, we may greatly diminish the immense 
distance that exists between the eye of a first-rate painter, and that of 
a man who has never thought on the subject. Were it, indeed, possible 
that a painter of great and general excellence could at once bestow on 
such a man — not his power of imitating, but of distinguishing and feel- 

* There is an anecdote of Salvator Rosa, which shows the very just and natural 
opinion that painters of eminence entertain of their superior judgment with regard to 
their own art : it is also highly characteristic of the lively impetuous manner of the 
artist of whom it is related, and whose words might no less justly be applied to real 
objects, than to the imitation of them. Salvator Rosa, cssendoyli mostrata una singolar 
pittura da tinjdiletiante 9 che insicmementc in estremo la lodava ; egli, con tin di quei suoi 
soliti ffesti spiritosi eschnno ; O pensa quel die tu diresti, se tu la vedessi con gli acclii di 
Salvator Rosa ! 



ing the effects and combinations of form, colour, and light and shadow 
— it would hardly be too much to assert, that a new appearance of 
things, a new world would suddenly be opened to him ; and the be- 
stower might preface the miraculous gift with the words in which Venus 
addresses her son, when she removes the mortal film from his eyes. 

Aspice, namque omnem quae nunc obducta tuenti 
Mortal es hebetat visus tibi, et humida circum 
Caligat, nubem eripiam. 

Vide T. 190 — ' 

Waves beating in upon a rocky coast.. 




In this edition, the reader will find some considerable additions ; but 
the chief difference is in the arrangement, which I am very conscious 
was in many parts extremely defective. Several of the chapters in the 
first volume are entirely new modelled ; and in the second, a great deal 
of new arrangement has taken place, especially in the middle part of 
the last Essay. Those readers only — should there be any such — who 
may have the curiosity to compare the present with former editions, can 
judge of the pains that the new modelling has cost me ; but I shall think 
them well bestowed, if I should be less open to those criticisms, which 
must have presented themselves to every reader of a methodical turn of 
mind. Another alteration, which I trust will be thought an improve- 
ment, is that of throwing the greater part of the notes to the end of the 
volumes. One note of much greater length than I could have wished 
is added to the second volume, in consequence of a very pointed attack 
from my friend Mr. Knight, in the second edition of the Analytical 
Inquiry ; it is indeed almost a controversial dissertation on the temple 
of Vesta, usually called the Sybil's temple, at Tivoli. I am persuaded, 
however, that I have made no small amends for the tediousness of con- 
troversy, by some very curious information I received on the subject, 
the accuracy of which I have no doubt may be safely relied on. The 
third volume remains nearly as it was, with scarcely any alteration : 
there is, however, one addition to the Dialogue of a few last words, by 


way of summing up the points of the controversy, and likewise an ap- 
pendix, which, like the note just mentioned, was occasioned by some 
strictures of 31 r. Knight's and almost equals it in length. I am still 
very largely in ins debt, on 3ir. Burke's, as well as on my own account 
and am ashamed of being so long in arrears. However slow, I hope at 
last to Leave nothing unpaid; but as I have undertaken the defence of 
such a man as Mr. Burke, I feel anxious that it should be as little un- 
worthy of him, as it is in my power to make it. 




The text of this Edition will be found to correspond accurately with that 
of the Edition 1810, with this difference, that the numerous foot notes 
which there occur, to the great inconvenience of the reader, have been 
here incorporated with the text. The few remarks which the Editor 
has ventured to make in his own person, have been also introduced into 
the text, where they are distinguished by brackets and the letter E. 

Vide P 207,—" Blair-Adam 



Preface to the First Essay, vii 

Preface to Edition 1810, xiii 

Editor's Preface, xv 

Introductory Essay on Origin of Taste— E., 1-58 


The reasons why an improver should study pictures, as well as nature — The 
artist's design in real scenery must change with the growth and decay of trees — 
The only unchanging compositions are in the designs of painters — Distinction 
between the painter and the improver — Between looking at pictures, merely 
with a reference to other pictures, and studying them with a view to the im- 
provement of our ideas of nature — The general principles of both arts the same 
— The manner in which a picture of Claude would probably be improved by 
Mr. Brown — Anecdote of an improved picture of Sir Joshua Reynolds — The 
Colonna, Claude — Remarks by E., 59-68 


Causes of the neglect of the picturesque in modern improvement — Intricacy 
and variety, characteristics of the picturesque — Monotony and baldness of im- 
proved places — A dressed lane — A lane in its natural and picturesque state — 
Near the house, picturesque beauty must often be sacrificed to neatness — Differ- 
ent ways in which a picturesque lane might probably be improved — Examples 
of two lanes that have been improved — Remarks by E., .... G9-76 


General meaning of the word picturesque — Mr. Gilpin's definition of it examined 
— It has not an exclusive reference to painting — The beautiful and the sublime 
have been pointed out and illustrated by painting, as well as the picturesque — 
Apology for making use of the word picturesqueness — The picturesque as 
distinct a character as cither the sublime or the beautiful — The picturesque 
arises from qualities directly opposite to those of beauty — What those qualities 
are — Picturesque and beautiful in buildings — in water — in trees — in animals — 
in birds — in the human species — in the higher order of beings — in painting — 

Remarks by E., 77-8.0 


General distinctions between the picturesque and the beautiful — Between the 
picturesque and the sublime — The manner in which they operate on the mind 
— Of terror, as a cause of the sublime, 90-103 




To create the sublime above our contracted powers — The art of improving there- 
fore depends on the beautiful and the picturesque — Remarks by E. — Beauty alone 
has hitherto been aimed at — But they are seldom unmixed ; and insipidity has 
arisen from trying to separate them — Remarks by E. — Instance of their mixture 
in the human countenance — in flowers, shrubs, and trees — in buildings — Illus- 
tration from the mixture of discords with the most flowing melodies in music 
— Remarks by E., ........... 104-109 


it has been doubted by some whether smoothness be essential to the beautiful — 
Effects of smoothness, and of roughness, in producing the beautiful and the 
picturesque, by means of repose and irritation — Remarks by E. — Exemplified 
in scenery — Repose, the peculiar characteristic of Claude's pictures — Chai-acter 
of the pleasures that arise from irritation — Remarks by E. — Character of Rubens' 
light and shadow — of Correggio's — of Claude's — his landscapes compared with 
those of Rubens — Illustration from the different characters of smiles — Character 
of Rembrandt's light and shadow — Anecdote of Sir Joshua Reynolds — Antique 
statues, standards of grandeur and beauty — The grandest style of painting, that 
of the Roman and Florentine schools — The Venetian style, the ornamental, or 
picturesque — Correggio's style, as desci'ibed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, might justly 
be called the beautiful style — Each style of painting corresponds with the cha- 
racteristic marks of the grand, the beautiful, and the picturesque in real objects, 1 10-123 


Breadth of light and shadow — Twilight — Quotation from Milton — Its effect should 

be studied by improvers — Difficulty of uniting breadth with detail — Breadth 

alone insufficient ; but preferabie to detail without breadth — Application of the 

principle of breadth to improvement — Objections to buildings being made too 

white — Remarks by E. — Mr. Walpole's expression of the gentleman with the 

foolish teeth — Distinctness — Remarks by E., . . . . . . 124-135 



On the beautiful, and what might be called the picturesque in colour — Remarks 
by E. — Why autumn, and not spring, is called the painter's season — Blossoms, 
which are so beautiful near the eve, have a spotty appearance in the general 
landscape — The first requisite of a picture is to be a whole — The colouring of 
the Venetian school formed upon the tints in autumn — The Ganymede of Titian 
— That of Rubens, on the fresh colours of spring — Character of the atmosphere, 
and the lights and shadows, in spring, summer, autumn, and winter — Remarks 
by E., 136-146 


On ugliness — Angles not ugly — Deformity is to ugliness what picturesqueness is 
to beauty ; but has in itself no connection with the sublime — Union of defor- 
mity with beauty—In what deformity consists — Ugliness and deformity in hills 
and mountains — in ground — Remarks by E. — in trees — in buildings — Ugliness 
in colours — Effect of ugliness and deformity compared — Illustrated by sounds 

Effects of the picturesque, when mixed with ugliness — The excess of the 

qualities of beauty tend to insipidity ; those of picturesqueness to deformity — 
Anecdote of an Anatomist — Application to improvements — Beauty, picturesque- 
ness, and deformity, in the other senses — General summing up of the arguments, 
to show that the picturesque has a distinct character — By what means the word 



came to be introduced into modern languages — The character, not less distinct 
than those of envy, revenge, &c. — The reason why its distinctness has not been 
so accurately marked — And why there are not more distinct terms and discri- 
minations in matters of taste— Remarks by E., 147-l(i3 


How far the principles of painting have been applied to improvements — Kent the 
first improver on the present system — Remarks by E. — General character of 
the old, and of the present system — Remarks by E. — Character of Kent, with re- 
marks by E. — Reasons for having spoken of him in such strong terms — A painter, 
of a liberal and comprehensive mind, the best judge of his own art, and of all 
that relates to it : such was Sir Joshua Reynolds — Character of his Discourses 
— Nothing so contracts the mind as mere practical dexterity — Illustration from 
such dexterity in music — Want of connection the great defect of modern gar- 
dening — Connection the great principle of painting — Illustrated by the con- 
necting particles in language — Mr. Brown, with remark by E. — Quotation from 
Ariosto — Grandeur in miniature — The clump — Anecdote of Mr. Brown, when 
High Sheriff — The belt — That and the avenue compared — Further remarks 
on the avenue — Remarks by E. — An avenue condemned by Mr. Brown, but 
saved by the owner — Distinction between beautiful and picturesque intricacy 
— Impossible to plan any forms of plantations that will suit all places — Illus- 
tration from the art of medicine — Remarks by E. — The usual method of thin- 
ning trees for the purpose of beauty — 111 effect of breaking an avenue into clumps 
—Remarks by E., 164-188 


Trees considered generally — Necessary accompaniments to rocks, mountains, and 
to every kind of ground and water — Remarks by E. — An exception with regard 
to the sea, with remark by E. — The variety ami intricacy of trees — Those which 
are fullest of leaves not always preferred by painters — The reasons — Plantations 
made for ornament, the least suited to the painter — The established trees of the 
country ought to prevail in the new plantations — Quotation by E. — Larches, 
and all pointed firs, make a bad general outline ; and, as they outgrow the oak, 
&c. nothing else appears — Remarks by E. — Fascinating deformity of a clump, 
compared to that of a wart or excrescence on the human face — Even large plant- 
ations of firs have a harsh effect, from their not harmonising with the natural 
woods of the country — The necessity of a proper balance in all scenery, both in 
point of form and of colour — One cause of the heaviness of fir plantations is their 
closeness— Appearance of the outside of a close fir plantation — of the inside — 
Different appearance in a grove of spreading pines — Fir plantation improper 
for screens — A common hedge often a most effectual screen — This points out 
the necessity of a mixture of thorns, hollies, and the lower growths, in all 
screens ; likewise in ornamental plantations — The advantage of such a mixture, 
if a plantation should be thinned after long neglect — Contrast of such a plant- 
ation with a close wood of firs only — Its variety would not arise merely from a 
diversity of plants — Variety in forests produced by a few species— Continual and 
unvaried diversity a source and a species of monotony — Accident and neglect 
the sources of variety in unimproved parks and forests — The reasons why lawns 
have so little variety — Why a lawn could hardly be made to look well in a pic- 
ture — Yet their peculiar character ought not to be destroyed — Vei'dure and 
smoothness, which are the characteristic beauties of a lawn, are in their nature 
allied to monotony ; but improvers, instead of trying to lessen that defect, have 
added to it — Soft and smooth colours, like soft and smooth sounds, are grateful 



to the mere sense — A relish for artful combinations acquired by degrees — Such 
a relish does not exclude a taste for simple scenes, and simple melodies— Re- 
marks by E., 189-212 


On the general effects of water in landscape — The beauty arising from reflections — 
None in Mr. Brown's made water — The turns of a beautiful natural river com- 
pared with those of Mr. Brown's artificial rivers — Remarks on certain passages 
of the poets, respecting the banks of rivers — None of them applicable to those of 
Mr. Brown's artificial water — No professor has endeavoured to make an arti- 
ficial like a natural river ; though he would be proud of having it mistaken for 
one — Mr. Brown and his followers great economists of invention — Cruelty of 
destroying the retired character of a brook — Regulus — Objects of reflection, 
peculiarly suited to stagnant water — Remarks on the expression of a fine sheet 
of water — The great piece of water at Blenheim — The dressed bank and garden 
scenery ; the reason why that part is superior to the other improved parts — 
Mr. Brown did not work in that part upon principle — He does not appear to 
have paid any attention to the thinning of his plantations — Anecdote of a lover 
of painting : two cows can never group — Character of the water below the 
cascade at Blenheim — Remarks by E., 213-22G 


General reflections on the subject of the Essay — Mr. Mason's poem as real an 
attack on Mr. Brown's system as what I have written — Something of patriotism 
in Mr. Mason's and Mr. Walpole's praises — Mr. Hamilton : Painshill — Precept 
of Tasso ; comment upon it — Painting tends to humanise the mind — Tribute 
to the memory of a near relation — Anecdote of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Wilson 
— The true proser — an emblem of Mr. Brown's performances — The opposite 
character — an emblem of the picturesque — He alone deserves the name of im- 
prover who leaves or creates the greatest number of pictures — But the sicken- 
ing display of art, and the total want of effect tempts one to reverse the line of 

Tasso, 227-235 

Appendix to the First Essay, 236 


Preface, 247 

Arguments that might plausibly be urged in defence of Mr. Brown's made water, 
and against the imitation of the banks of natural lakes and rivers — In order to 
imitate them with effect, we must inquire not how such banks may have looked 
when they were first created, but how they were progressively formed — Differ- 
ent accidents by which natural lakes are formed — Pieces of artificial water made 
by means of a head, of digging, or of both — Their form best indicated by the 
water itself — How natural lakes, which originally had no varieties, may have 
acquired them, and how similar varieties may be prepared by art — What would 
probably be the process of an improver who wished to prepare them where the 
banks were naturally uniform — The two principal changes are by removing 
earth from, or by placing it upon, or against banks — the first considered — Re- 
marks by E. — Remarks on digging out the soil previous to its being disposed of 
— The banks of a natural river and its varieties analysed — Such an analysis re- 
commended from the example of painters— Method of imitating such a bank 
by the placing of the mould — And of other objects — Of the beauty of tints; — 
those of stone and of broken soil — All varied banks, not merely those of water, 
should be studied by the painter and the improver — Reflections on foregrounds 



— their general effect, and their detail — Arguments for enriching the banks of 
made water — Different characters of banks in natural rivers considered, with 
their degrees of richness and variety — Those varieties have never been attempt- 
ed in made water — Reasons for thinking they might be imitated with success — 
Instance of the close affinity between landscape painters and landscape gardeners 
■ — And between those of Mr. Brown's school and house painters — Objection to 
the style I have recommended, from the danger of its producing absurdities — 
That objection obviated — The combinations that might be formed by men of real 
taste, with Remarks by E. — Mr. Brown's banks though tame, not simple — Reasons 
for having recommended enrichment, and not simplicity — Character of simpli- 
city — Supposing the country to be perfectly flat, how are the banks to be formed'? 
— Reflections on Mr. Brown's method in such situations — On continuity of surface 
in ground, and on the separation and connection occasioned by water and its 
banks — The strong attraction of water, and its influence on all around it — Its 
position of great consequence in the view from the house — The banks of a bare 
natural river, compared with those of Mr. Brown's — also, supposing them both 
to be planted and left to grow wild — The varieties in the rich but flat banks of a 
natural river examined — Remarks by E. — They all may and should be imitated 
— On planting the banks of water — On artificial hillocks, and swellings of ground 
— Remarks by E. — Quotation from Mr. Mason on that subject — Ditto from the 
Abbe de Lille — On the forms of artificial pieces of water — Reasons for imitating 
a lake rather than a river — Remarks by E. — Excellent hints may be taken from 
the forms of water in gravel-pits — Effect of the proportion of objects to the size 
of water — And of their disproportion — Small pools in wooded scenes — Quotation 
from Mr. Mason — On the revival of tints in w T ater — On the use of water in pic- 
tures — On a picture of Titian— Many banks spoiled by raising water too high — 
The effect of torrents descending into a flat — Quotation from Macchiavelli — On 
islands — Those in Lake Superior — Quotation from Morse's American Geography 
— The use of islands in disguising the appearance of the head — Their own 
intrinsic beauty — Of forming and planting islands — The trees most proper for 
islands — Remarks by E. — Caution with regard to firs, and trees of a light 
green — Of water plants — Comparison between a piece of water and a lawn — 
between islands, and clumps and thickets — Circular islands in the centre — On 
flowing lines and curves — Insensible transitions, not lines, the cause of beauty 
in landscape — The great defect of Mr. Bi'own's system — Distinction between a 
beautiful and a picturesque river, 253-296 


Difficulties in treating the subject, and whence they arise — The great defect of 
modern gardening an affectation of simplicity — Mr. Mason's address to Simpli- 
city objected to — The characters of Richness and Simplicity in painting— Archi- 
tecture, even of the simplest kind, requires the accompaniments of art — 
Gardens in Italy ; their general character — Their character when kept up, and 
when neglected — Yanbrugh's answer when consulted about the garden at Blen- 
heim — An account of an old-fashioned garden, which I myself destroyed, and 
regret — Remarks by E. — Arguments in favour of the old Italian gardens, from 
the characters of the artists employed to adorn them — The principles on which 
their excellence is founded — Anecdote of Lord Stair — Gravel and terrace walk 
compared — The irregular enrichments of a broken bank compared with the 
regular ones of an ornamented parapet — Iole in the lion's skin — The varieties in 
broken ground serve as indications where to plant with effect — In a uniform 
bank no motive of preference — Leonardo da Vinci — The use of a mixture of stone 




and wood work in the foregrounds of every style of building trellises — 
Remarks by E. — Toleration in gardening — that of the Romans in religion — The 
introduction of Dutch gardening probably banished the Italian style — Quotation 
from Pontanus — Revolution in gardening and politics compared — Reformation 
of Knox and Brown compared — Mr. Brown most successful in gardens, not in 
grounds — His merit in gravel-walks— those at Blenheim — His ridicule of zig-zag- 
walks — Fountains and statues — Remarks by E. — Caution with regard to statues 
in gardens — General comparison of ancient and modern gardening — Symmetry, 
formality, straight lines— The Italian style of gardening most suited to stately 
architecture, but there are gradations in garden ornaments, as in buildings — 
How a real and progressive improvement in gardening might be made — False 
idea of originality — Difference between leaving old terraces, avenues, &c. and 
making them — Richmond terrace — Arguments drawn from poetry, painting, 
&c. in favour of heightening and embellishing common nature — The difficulties 
of gardening not in executing the parts, but in combining them into a well 
connected whole — Remarks by E., 297 


My remarks will chiefly be confined to buildings as connected with scenery — Dis- 
tinction between architecture in towns, and in the country — Reasons for that 
distinction — An architect should be architetto pittore — The necessity of employing 
such an architect where the building is meant to accord with the scenery — Many 
who think of their house and their place separately : not of the union of their 
character and effect — None so likely to produce a reform on that point as archi- 
tect painters — Not even landscape painters — the reason — One cause of the naked 
appearance of houses, is the hiding of the offices — Advantages that might be gained 
by showing them — Remarks by E. — Another cause, the change in the style of 
gardening — Genius of the lamp — Bareness of abbeys and castles that have been 
improved — Also of rocks — On the mixture of trees with buildings in pictures — 
and in real scenes — Turkey — Holland — Objections to them stated and consid- 
ered — Trees, the dress of buildings — Phryne — Bareness and monotony the dis- 
eases of modern improvement — The best preservative against all extremes, is a 
study of the grand, beautiful, and picturesque in buildings — The sublime in 
Buildings — Mr. Burke— Succession and uniformity— The sublime of intricacy 
— Effects of intricacy and uniformity compared — San Pietro Martire of Titian — 
Massiveness in buildings — Lightness of style in writing — Voltaire — Psestum — 
Blenheim — Anecdote of Voltaire — Massivenesss in figures — Blenheim — Analogy 
between rocks and buildings— Grandeur of marked divisions, as towers — Wol- 
laton House and Nottingham Castle— Vanbrugh — Character of Blenheim — Re- 
marks by E.— Summits of buildings— Town of Tivoli— and of Bath— Appearance 
of buildings in the general view of a city— Remark on the appearance of a man- 
sion with its offices— Chimnies, with Remarks by E. — Summits of buildings in pic- 
tures, &c., their various characters— The beautiful in buildings— Waving lines- 
Anecdote of Hogarth— Twisted columns— Temple of the Sybil ; the qualities of 
beauty according to Mr. Burke applied to it— Beauty in the surface and tint of 
buildings— The buildings in Mr. Locke's Claude— By what means they might 
cease to be beautiful, and become simply grand and picturesque— Symmetry- 
Grecian and Gothic architecture— The doctrine of insensible transitions applied to 
ruins— Association of ideas, with Remark by E.— Ruins in the pictures of Claude 
—Claude and Gaspar— Conjecture why Claude so often painted ruins, and Gaspar 
so rarely— One great use of buildings in landscape, a resting place for the eye 
— Salvator Rosa seldom painted any buildings in his landscapes— The picturesque 



in buildings — Mixed with beauty — With grandeur — Remark by E. — Ruins of 
Greek and Roman buildings — Of abbeys — Of castles — Of old mansion-houses — 
Of cottages, mills, &c. — Picturesque habitable buildings — Advantages of turning 
the windows towards the best points of view — Remarks by E. — On bridges — 
Stupendous bridge in China — Grecian and Gothic Bridges — Lightness and 
Massiveness — Quotation from Milton — Columns in bridges — Blackfriars — 
Wooden Bridges — Stone and wood — Picturesque bridge at Charenton — not 
however an object of imitation — Anecdote of a Chinese tailor — Stone and wood 
bridge in a drawing of Claude — Remarks by E. — Character of architecture and 
buildings in the pictures of great historical painters of the Roman, Florentine, 
and Venetian Schools — Drawing of Tintoret — Architecture of the Venetian 
School ; difference of its character from the two others — The causes — Twisted 
columns in one of the cartoons — Grandeur produced by two columns in a picture 
of Titian — Bolognese School of painting — Pietro da Cortona — Poussin — Flemish 
School — Rubens — Landscapes — Roman and Florentine Schools — Venetian — 
Titian — Two landscapes of Titian, etched by Bolognese — Application of the 
principle on which the buildings in them are grouped — Landscapes of Bolognese 
School — Of Poussin — Magnificent view of a city in one of his pictures — Similar 
views in pictures of P. Veronese and Claude — Argument drawn from them 
for varying the summits — Landscape of Sebastian Bourdon — Left as a legacy to 
Sir George Beaumont — Use of the Picturesque in grand subjects — Quotation 
from Diderot — Abuse of it in pictures of Boucher — Landscapes of Rubens — 
Dutch School — Remarks on a passage in Mr. Burke — Ostade — Wouvermans — 
Teniers — Rembrandt — On slanting roofs — Villages — No scene admits of such 
various and cheap embellishments — Remarks by E. — Goldsmith — Sham villages 
in China — Character of a village as distinct from a town — Of village houses — 
Chimnies — Accompaniment of trees — Of climbing plants — Fruit trees — Neat- 
ness pleasing, though with formality, as in clipped hedges — Churches and 
church-yards — The forms and ornaments of churches — The tower, battlements, 
pinnacles — Quotation from Milton — The spire — Trees in church-yards — Water 
— A brook most in character with a village — Simple foot bridge — Stones placed 
on each other for the purpose of washing — Picturesque circumstances they give 
rise to — Remarks on Pope's translation of a passage in Homer — Tendency of 
the love of painting towards benevolence — Gainsborough — Sir Joshua Reynolds 
— How far a judgment in architecture may be acquired by the study of pictures 
— Conclusion— Remarks by E., 328-40.0 

Letter to Uvedale Price, Esq., 410 

Letter to H. Repton, Esq. — Reason for answering Mr. Rcpton's Letter so much 
in detail — As Mr. R. agrees with him in the general principles of improvement, 
the difference between them is with regard to the propriety or possibility of 
reducing them to practice — The trial as yet has never fairly been made— Mi*. R.'s 
principal aim throughout his Letter, is to show, that by a study of painting only, 
wild ideas are acquired — Such a general notion not authorised by the works of 
painters — Exemplified in those of Claude and N. Poussin — In giving the title of 
" The New system of Improvement, by Neglect and Accident," Mr. R. has tried 
to ridicule his own practice — The utility of that practice and method of study 
discussed — Illustrated by a passage from Helvetius — Its effect in gardening — 
Not attended to by Mr. Brown, and one chief cause of his defects — It is a 
method of study very generally pursued by painters in their study of nature, 
but not by improvers — Mr. R. however had pursued it, according to his own 
account — Mr. P. had taken the liberty of recommending, in addition to it, the 
study of the higher artists ; but is glad to hear Mr. R. had anticipated his ad- 



vice, and that he acknowledges it to be a study essential to the profession — In 
their party down the Wye, Mr. R. treated lightly the idea of taking hints from 
a natural river, towards forming an artificial one — He had found by practical 
experience that there is less affinity between painting and gardening, than his 
enthusiasm for the picturesque made him originally fancy — The principal aim 
of Mr. R. is to weaken that affinity ; but his own method of proceeding proves 
the closeness of it — That method discussed, and compared with the painter's — 
In all this, convenience and propriety are not the objects of consideration, 
though not to be neglected — The best landscape painters would be the best 
landscape gardeners, were they to turn their minds to the practical part ; con- 
sequently, a study of their works the most useful study to an improver — Mr. R. 
has endeavoured to confine his reader's ideas to mere garden scenes, and to 
persuade them that Mr. P. wishes that every thing should be sacrificed to pictu- 
resque effect — That notion refuted by references to the Essay on the Picturesque 
— Mr. R.'s illustration of a garden scene, by a didactic poem, examined — Also his 
query, whether the painter's landscape is indispensable to gardening ? — as like- 
wise the meaning of both those terms — Instead of the painter's landscape, Mr. R. 
ought, in candour, to have put a study of the principles of painting — All painting 
not rough — instances of too great smoothness — Such a painter as Van Huysum 
would be a much better judge of the merits and defects of the most dressed scene 
— of a mere flower-garden— than a gardener ; and, from the general principles 
of the art, his judgment and that of the wildest painter — even of S. Rosa — 
would probably agree — The more the scene was extended, the more it would 
belong to the painter, and the less to the gardener — Mr. R. has addressed him- 
self to the fears of his employers, and alarmed them for their health in pictu- 
resque scenes — Dirt and rubbish not picturesque, as such — Many pleasing scenes 
which cannot be painted — That notion, and the argument Mr. R. has drawn 
from it, examined — Mr. P. had been warned, that the Brownists in general 
would take advantage of his distinction, and give up the picturesque, and keep 
to beauty only ; the advantage it would be of to him, should they do so ; his 
surprise and regret that Mr. R. should have done what nearly amounts to it — 
Before he says anything further on the use of the picturesque in landscape 
gardening, Mr. P. wishes three points to be considered : 1st the distinct charac- 
ter of the picturesque — 2dly, The vague meaning of the term gardening — And 
3dly, The general mixture of the picturesque with the beautiful — Mr. R. has 
always chosen to consider the picturesque in its roughest state, but has avoided 
any allusion to picturesque scenery — He therefore transfers the picturesque to 
gipseys, &c., not to cascades and forest scenes — Mr. R.'s criticism of Mr. P.'s 
observation, on the effect of deer in groups, examined — The justness of that 
observation defended, by the pictures of Claude and Berchem — The picturesque 
applied to landscape gardening — Picturesque parts in the most simply beautiful 
rivers — Those parts must be destroyed or concealed, if the picturesque be re- 
nounced — Beauty no more the immediate result of smoothness, &c, than pictu- 
resqueness is of roughness, &c. — Should Mr. R. allow of a mixture of roughness 
in his idea of beauty, it is no longer unmixed, no longer separate from the pictu- 
resque ; and in that case, all he has said about renouncing the latter has no 
object — Proposed alteration at Powis Castle, by a professed improver — That 
instance shows the danger of trying to ridicule the study of painting, and 
of the picturesque — The diffidence wliich Mr. R. showed in consulting Mr. 
Knight about the improvements at Ferney Hall, first gave Mr. P. a desire of 
being acquainted with him — The character he had heard of his drawings added 
to that desire — The improver not less in danger of becoming a mannerist than 
the painter — Kent an example of it — Mr. P. did not intend to call in question 



the respectability of Mr. R.'s profession ; but, on the contrary, to give it a respec- 
tability it hitherto had not deserved — Parallel drawn by Mr. R. between the 
paintei*'s studies of wild nature, and the uncontrolled opinions of savages — 
By wild nature, he probably means simple nature unimproved by art — How far 
such wild nature, when arranged by the painter, may accord with dressed 
scenery — Many scenes in unimproved nature highly beautiful in the strictest 
sense, and which are of course produced by accident, not design, with Remark 
by E — Mr. R.'s parallel between modern gardening and the English constitution 
— A more apt and instructive one might have been drawn between it and the 
art of painting — Mr. R.'s defence of the detail of Mr. Brown's practice — the 
clump — Mr. Brown studied distinctness, not connection — Connection the lead- 
ing principle of the art, and the most flagrantly and systematically violated — 
The two principal defects in the composition of landscapes, that of objects 
being too crowded or too scattered — Mr. R.'s condemnation of single trees in 
heavy fences very just — The ground must be prepared, fenced, and planted 
too thick at first — Remedies proposed for the defects which that method, 
though the best, will occasion — The belt — Causes assigned for its introduction 
and continuance — Nothing so convienent as to work by general receipts, such 
as clumps, belts, &c. — The belt a gigantic hedge — difference between that and 
the accidental screens to old parks — Those are true objects of imitation to the 
landscape gardeners— Mr. R.'s improved belt not properly a belt; certainly 
not Mr. Brown's, &c. — Even that improved belt shown to be tedious from his 
own account — Mr. P.'s recommendation to gentlemen to become their own 
landscape gardeners, not likely to injui'e the profession, and still less the art — 
No art more adapted to men of liberal education who have places in the country — 
Its practice not difficult — Less danger in quacking one's self, than in trusting to 
a bold empiric — Parallel between the education of a physician, and of a land- 
scape gardener — The most perverse and ignorant improver of his own place, 
will seldom do such extensive mischief as is produced by the regular system of 
clearing and levelling — Allusion to the system of torture in the inquisition, com- 
pared with the cruelty of savages — No plan, or medicine, proper in almost every 
case— neither Brown's plan nor James's Powder — Prospects — Remarks by E. — 
Why prospects in general are not proper subjects for painting — The same causes 
equally operate on all views — Prospects are to be judged of, like any other views, 
on the principles of painting — Remarks by E. — But however exquisitely painted, 
will not have the effect of those in nature — They are not real, and therefore do 
not excite the curiosity which reality excites — This accounts for what Mr. R. 
relates of the visitors at Matlock — Mr. P. had called the two arts sisters, but 
has no objection to adopting Mr. R.'s idea and calling them husband and wife — 
Mr. R.'s illustration of the habit of admiring fine pictures and bold scenery, by 
that of chewing of tobacco — In the same manner that Mr. R. has represented 
Mr. P. as liking nothing but what is rough and picturesque, a wrong-headed 
friend of Mr. Gilpin's might very plausibly represent him as loving nothing but 
smoothness — Mr. R.'s examples of subjects he supposes Mr. P. to despise, because 
they are incapable of being painted — They all may be painted — Except the im- 
mediate descent down a steep hill — That deficiency of the art, and the argu- 
ment drawn from it, considered — Recapitulation of the contents and the design 
of Mr. R.'s Letter — Remarks on the general, and on the confined, sense of the 
term beautiful — Illustrated by that of virtue — A picturesque scene without any 
mixture of the beautiful, contrasted with a beautiful scene, unmixed with 
any thing picturesque — Effect of the different characters of light and shadow on 
these two scenes — Effect of mixing the characters of the two scenes — Effect of 
Mr. Brown's style of improvement on both — In what points the design of the 




Essay on the Picturesque has been misconceived— On gravel-walks and paths 
— The effect of distinct cutting lines, illustrated by a remark of A. Caracci, on 
Raphael and Correggio — Gravel-walks accord more with beautiful than" with 
picturesque scenes — On by-roads in a dry soil, as objects of imitation at some 
distance from the house — Remarks by E. — On the different effects of the scythe, 
and of the bite of sheep — How banks in pleasure-grounds might be made to have 
the play of wild, and the polish of dressed nature — On distinct lines, when ap- 
plied to the banks of water — Effect of distinctness in the lines of gravel-walks, 
and in the banks of water, considered — The picturesque and the beautiful as 
separate as their respective qualities — but the art of improving depends not on 
their constant separation, but on their proper mixture — still more on the higher 
principles of union, connection, &c. — Controversy compared with the ancient 
tournaments — The effects of connection in a more important sphere — Remarks 
on Mr. Mason's expression of Silvati grace, 417-472 


Introductory Essay, 


Note to the Second Edition of the Landscape, 
Dialogue on the Picturesque and Beautiful, 
Appendix to Dialogue, &c, .... 
Notes and Illustrations, .... 



The subject of Sir Uvedale Price's Essays appears to me capable of 
being considered under two different views — that popular view which 
contents itself with the mere observation and enumeration of the objects 
of the material world, or their combinations, which are most generally 
capable of exciting in us emotions of beauty, of sublimity, or of the 
picturesque — and that deeper and more philosophical view, which in- 
volves the enquiry into the manner in which the human mind is affected 
by such objects. Price has in a great .degree contented himself with 
the first of these views — and indeed when he has ventured beyond 
its limits, he has shown indications of a disposition to be misled into 
that wide and pathless wilderness of error, in which all those who 
had previously written upon the subject were lost. The exquisite 
and highly cultivated taste which he displays, however, and the nice 
discrimination which he exhibits in that range within which he confines 
himself, and in which the great majority of his readers are naturally 
most interested, has uniformly excited the admiration of all who have 
perused his Essays, and as they will be found to contain much, if not 
all that is requisite for the promotion of Landscape Gardening upon 
the best principles, the circumstance of his leaving untouched the deeper 
question — upon what philosophical grounds these principles really 
are the best — does not render his observations the less useful, in a 
practical point of view. At the same time, I am disposed to believe, 
that it will not be thought his work is rendered less valuable, or the 
beauty of the pictures he so liberally spreads abroad in it less enjoyable, 
if I should venture to devote a few preliminary pages to an exposition 




of that which is now held to he the true Theory of the process hy which 
the human mind is affected by emotions of beauty, of sublimity, or of 
the picturesque — terms, which I am quite disposed to admit to be in 
themselves extremely convenient, as popular classifications of those 
pleasing emotions which we derive from the objects of the material 
world, but which, in the strictly philosophical view of the question, must 
be viewed as substantially the same, since they are found to owe their 
creation to the same origin, and operation of mind. 

The great error into which most of those who have treated of the 
subject of Taste have fallen, is that arising from the belief that there 
exists in material objects, certain inherent and invariable qualities of 
beauty, of sublimity, or of picturesqueness, and this, in many instances, in 
such a manner, as would have implied the existence of a peculiar sense or 
faculty, for the perception of them. Now, it is obvious, that if this really 
were the case, all men of perfect organization would be affected by the 
same objects, with precisely the same sensations, just as all mankind 
who have perfect organs, are similarly affected with the opposite sensa- 
tions of light and darkness, of heat and cold, of sweetness and bitter- 
ness, or of those produced by the antagonist hues of black and white. 
But we know that men's opinions are so far from being uniform with 
regard to matters of taste, that the same object which produces one 
kind of emotion in one individual, will often produce an emotion of a 
very different sort in another; that an object which in one man produces 
a strong emotion, may produce no emotion at all in another. Nay, more, 
that the very same object which deeply affects an individual in one way 
at one time, will affect him as strongly in a totally different or opposite 
manner at another, while at some other period it will produce no effect 
upon him at all. As it was found impossible to reconcile these facts 
with any theory which assigned to objects inherent and unchangeable 
qualities of beauty, of sublimity, or of picturesqueness, philosophers began 
to look into the mind itself for the generation and production of these 

In the history of this question, it is a circumstance somewhat remark- 
able, that the writings of Plato exhibit some faint indications of the im- 
portant truth, that in the perception of beauty, the mind of man only 
contemplates those pictures which its own affections have created. But 
from the days of Plato downwards, nearly to our own times, nothing 
exists to show that any writer had been fully enlightened on this subject. 
The opinions of St. Augustin, Crouzas, Andre, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, 
and Gerard, were all visionary, and many of them wild — and even 
that of Burke himself, will not be found to be such as to entitle it to 



exemption from these imputations. When duly considered, Burke's 
Theory may be resolved into this, that all objects appear beautiful, 
which have the power of producing a particular relaxation of our nerves 
and fibres, and which thus induce a certain bodily languor and sinking. 
But although the eloquence of the author of the Treatise of the Sub- 
lime and Beautiful, has given a charm to that work, which must always 
cause it to be read with intense pleasure, and although it is full of the 
most beautiful and striking remarks, yet its principle has been funda- 
mentally abandoned by all, with the exception, perhaps, of Price him- 
self, in whose writings somewhat of the spirit of Burke's theory may 
be detected under a new character. After Burke came Diderot, and 
Pere Burner, whose theories were also untenable. Then a whole troop 
of authors entered the lists, to tilt in a sort of chance-medley combat, 
in which each preux chevalier fought for himself independently, and 
exchanged thrusts with all the other combatants in succession. No 
two individuals were engaged who had not some point of opinion to 
dispute, while each seemed to have adopted for himself some favourite 
theory which he believed to be infallible. But although even the errors 
of these authors had some foundation in truth, that truth was so im- 
perfect in itself, as to be quite tantamount to error. Their various 
theories, which, according to their several opinions, made beauty to con- 
sist in utility, proportion, relation, curved lines, smoothness, minuteness, 
delicacy, fragility, regularity, moderate variety, and other properties be- 
longing essentially to objects, when tested were proved to be utterly 
fallacious as general principles, and therefore unsatisfactory. Each of 
the controvertists found it an easier matter to disprove the universality 
of application of the different theories of his various opponents, than to 
establish that of his own. 

Thus it was that the mere surface of the question continued to be 
for some time agitated by controversy, without any nearer approach to 
truth, till a later race of enquirers arose, who, by going deeper in their 
researches into the operations of the human mind, and into the modes 
in which it is affected by the objects of the material world, began to ex- 
plain and to reconcile the difficulties, and seeming incongruities that 
appeared among the various doctrines of former disputants. This was 
done by showing, that all of them had erred in seeking for any inherent 
qualities in objects, capable of being established as the sole, invariable, 
and direct productive causes of beauty, of sublimity, or of the pic- 
turesque — and by teaching us that our minds are affected by such im- 
pressions entirely from the influence of certain associations, the filaments 
of which are frequently so fine, as to be in themselves imperceptible, 


and the original germs from which they spring often so deeply seated as to 
he indiscoverable, although, in other, and perhaps in most instances, a 
patient and industrious investigation may enable us to trace them satis- 
factorily — or, in other words, our minds obey the power of these asso- 
ciations, by giving birth to the emotions which they naturally excite, and 
this even in many instances where the original cause of association may 
be forgotten, or extremely difficult to discover. 

Mr. Alison's Essays on the Principles of Taste, first published in 1790, 
afforded the earliest complete promulgation of the Theory of Association. 
He was followed by Knight, and Professors Dugald Stewart and Thomas 
Brown. But as Lord Jeffrey's eloquent and perspicuous article in the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica is the last treatise on the subject of which I have 
any knowledge, and as he there prunes some of the redundancies of Alison, 
which are not only not essential to the theory itself, but which perhaps 
rather weaken than add to its strength, I shall avail myself of his ob- 
servations, along with those of Mr. Alison, to aid me in the following 
attempt to explain and expose it in its most perfect form. 

Mr. Alison tells us in his introduction, that the qualities that produce 
in the mind the emotions of sublimity and beauty, are to be found in 
almost every class of the objects of human observation, while the emotions 
themselves afford one of the most extensive sources of human delight. 
They occur to us amid every variety of external scenery, and among 
many diversities of disposition and affection in the mind of man. The 
merely pleasing arts of human invention are altogether directed to their 
production ; and even the utilitarian arts are exalted into dignity by the 
genius that can unite beauty with use. These qualities, however, 
though so important to human happiness, are not the objects of imme- 
diate observation ; and in the attempt to investigate them, various circum- 
stances unite to perplex our research. They are not unfrequentl y obscured 
under the number of qualities with which they are accidentally com- 
bined. They result often from peculiar combinations of the qualities of 
objects, or the relations of certain parts of objects to each other. They 
are still oftener dependent upon the state of our minds, so as to vary in 
their effects with the dispositions in which they happen to be observed 
by us. 

In order to discover the causes which produce these emotions, we 
must first investigate the nature of the qualities themselves ; and secondly, 
that of the faculty by which the emotions are received. Mr. Alison 
very justly remarks, that such investigations are of value much beyond 
the mere gratification of philosophical curiosity, for whatever the science 
of criticism can afford for the improvement or correction of taste, must 


altogether depend upon the previous knowledge of the laws of this 
faculty, and, without a just and accurate conception of the nature of 
these qualities, the artist must he unable to determine whether the 
hcauty he creates is of a temporary or permane?it nature — that is to say, 
whether it be merely adapted to the accidental prejudices prevalent in 
his own age, or whether it be fitted to command that more permanent 
approbation, which must always arise, in any age, from the uniform con- 
stitution of the human mind. I beg the reader to observe, that this 
observation applies to nothing more strongly than to the art of Landscape 

The fundamental point of Mr. Alison's theory is, that all the beauty 
of material objects depends on the associations that may have connected 
them with the ordinary affections or emotions of our nature. In other 
words, the beauty which we impute to such objects is nothing more than 
the reflection of our own inward emotions. The object presented to our 
eyes is associated either with pleasures, or pleasing emotions of our past 
life, or by some universal analogy with some such pleasing emotions, 
these are immediately suggested and renewed the moment the object 
is seen by us. I say immediately suggested, because, in my mind, it is 
plain that the emotions excited by these associations are instanta- 
neously suggested ; that is to say, they are suggested at the very in- 
stant that the object is observed by us, or at the very first glimpse 
we have of its appearance ; for it is this immediate connection and in- 
stantaneous effect produced between the objects and the mind, which 
makes it so difficult for superficial enquirers to conceive that the physical 
properties of the object are not the direct cause of our sensations, and, 
consequently, the natural belief arises, that these physical properties are 
endowed with absolute and intrinsic qualities of beauty. If, then, the 
object presented to us be not altogether indifferent to us, we are at once 
enabled to pronounce it to be beautiful, or the reverse of beautiful, 
because, in the one case, it immediately suggests to us an association 
with some pleasing emotion of our past experience which it instan- 
taneously recalls, whilst, in the other, it with equal promptitude sug- 
gests an association with emotions of an unpleasing nature. But Mr. 
Alison is not contented to admit that an association calculated to excite 
such pleasing emotions within us, may he a sufficient cause of our being 
apparently conscious of perceptions of beauty in the objects of the 
material world. He conceives that this our sense of beauty consists, not 
merely in the suggestion of such ideas of pleasing emotion, but in the 
contemplation of a connected series of such ideas ; nay, he seems to 
hold it to be essential to the production of a full perception of beauty 



that the mind should he home away into a half active and half passive 
state of dreamy imagination, in which it may generate trains of thought 
allied to the character and expression of the ohject. Now, I think that 
after the ohject presented to us has excited its associated emotions of 
beauty, such dreamy trains of thought may he very likely to arise, 
especially in a mind of strong sensibility, rich imagination, and great 
reflective habits, such as that of Mr. Alison himself, and that more 
particularly in moments of peculiar quiet and leisure ; and I am also 
prepared to admit that the primary emotion of heauty may be thereby 
very much expanded or multiplied, so as to increase the delight of the 
individual in a corresponding degree. But I must agree with Lord 
JefTrev, that not only are such trains of thought not essential, but that 
such a view of the question might very much endanger the evidence 
as well as the consistency of the general doctrine. To use his Lordship's 
own words — " In the long train of interesting meditations to which Mr. 
Alison refers, in the delightful reveries in which he would make the 
sense of beauty consist, it is obvious that we must soon lose sight of the 
external object which gave the first impulse to our thoughts, and though 
we may afterwards reflect upon it with increased interest and gratitude, 
as the parent of so many charming images, it is impossible, we conceive, 
that the perception of its beauty can ever depend upon a long series of 
various and shifting emotions." Feeling, as I do, the full force of this 
observation, I am disposed to think that Mr. Alison's error may be 
accounted for by the fact, that his own highly poetical and imaginative 
mind must have been so prone to yield to those delightful reveries of 
which he makes so much account, as to have led him to overlook 
the full influence of the primary emotions of beauty by which they 
were generated. Be this as it may, however, this idea of the necessity of 
imaginative reveries for the production of beauty and sublimity, is so 
interwoven with the beginning of his work, as to lead me, in the first 
place, rather to apply to the text of Lord Jeffrey as the safest guide to 
a correct view of the Theory of Association. 

" The basis of this theory is, that the beauty which we impute to 
outward objects is nothing more than the reflection of our own inward 
emotions, and it is made up entirely of certain little portions of love, 
pity, and affection which have been connected with these objects, and 
still adhere, as it were, to them, and move us anew whenever they are 
presented to our observation. Before proceeding to bring any proof of 
the truth of this proposition, there are two things which it may he 
proper to explain a little more distinctly ; — -first, what are the primary 
affections, by the suggestion of which we think the sense of beauty is 



produced ; and secondly, what is the nature of the connection by which 
we suppose that the objects we call beautiful are enabled to suggest 
these affections. 

u With regard to the first of these points, it fortunately is not neces- 
sary either to enter into any tedious details, or to have recourse to any 
nice distinctions. All sensations that are not absolutely indifferent, and 
are, at the same time, either agreeable when experienced by ourselves, 
or attractive when contemplated in others, may form the foundation of 
the emotions of sublimity or beauty. The love of sensation seems to be 
the ruling appetite of human nature, and many sensations, in which the 
painful seems to bear no little share, are consequently sought for with 
avidity, and recollected with interest, even in our own persons. In the 
persons of others, emotions still more painful are contemplated with 
eagerness and delight ; and, therefore, we must not be surprised to find, 
that many of the pleasing sensations of beauty or sublimity resolve them- 
selves ultimately into recollections of feelings that may appear to have a 
very opposite character. The sum of the whole is, that every feeling 
which it is agreeable to experience, to recal, or to witness, may become 
the source of beauty in external objects, when it is so connected with 
them, as that their appearance reminds us of that feeling. Now, in real 
life, and from daily experience and observation, we know that it is 
agreeable, in the first place, to recollect our own pleasurable sensations, 
or to be able to form a lively conception of the pleasures of other men, 
or even of sentient beings of any description. We know, likewise, 
from the same sure authority, that there is a certain delight in the 
remembrance of our past, or the conception of our future emotions, even 
though attended with great pain, provided they be not forced too rudely 
on the mind, and be softened by the accompaniment of any milder feel- 
ing. And, finally, we know., in the same manner, that the spectacle or 
conception of the emotions of others, even when in a high degree 
painful, is extremely interesting and attractive, and draws us away, not 
only from the consideration of indifferent objects, but even from the 
pursuit of light or frivolous enjoyments, All these are plain and fami- 
liar facts, of the existence of which, however they may be explained, no 
one can entertain the slightest doubt, and into which, therefore, we shall 
have made no inconsiderable progress, if we can resolve the more 
mysterious fact of the emotions we receive from the contemplation of 
sublimity or beauty. 

" Our proposition, then, is, that these emotions arc not original emo- 
tions, nor produced directly by any qualities in the objects which excite 
them, but arc the reflections or images of the more radical and familiar 



emotions to which we have already alluded, and are occasioned, not hy 
any inherent virtue in the objects before us, but by the accidents, if we 
may so express ourselves, by which these may have been enabled to 
suggest or recal to us our own past sensations or sympathies. We might 
almost venture, indeed, to lay it down as an axiom, that, except in the 
plain and palpable case of bodily pain or pleasure, we can never be 
interested in any thing but the fortunes of sentient beings, and that every 
thing partaking of the nature of mental emotion must have for its object 
the feelings, past, present, or possible, of something capable of sensation. 
Independently, therefore, of all evidence, and without the help of any 
explanation, we should have been apt to conclude, that the emotions 
of beauty and sublimity must have for their objects the sufferings or 
enjoyments of sentient beings, and to reject, as intrinsically absurd and 
incredible, the supposition, that material objects, which obviously do 
neither hurt nor delight the body, should yet excite, by their mere 
physical qualities, the very powerful emotions which are sometimes 
excited by the spectacle of beauty. 

" Of the feelings, by their connection with which external objects be- 
come beautiful, we do not think it necessary to speak more minutely, 
and, therefore, it only remains, under this preliminary view of the sub- 
ject, to explain the nature of that connection by which we conceive this 
effect to be produced. Here, also, there is but little need for minute- 
ness or fulness of enumeration. Almost every tie by which two objects 
can be bound together in the imagination, in such a manner that the 
presentiment of the one shall recall the memory of the other, or, in other 
words, almost every possible relation which can subsist between such 
objects, may serve to connect the things we call sublime or beautiful 
with feelings that are interesting or delightful. It may be useful, how- 
ever, to class these bonds of association between mind and matter in a 
rude and general way. 

" It appears to us, then, that objects are sublime or beautiful, first, 
When they are the natural signs and perpetual concomitants of pleasur- 
able sensations, or, at any rate, of some lively feeling or emotion in our- 
selves, or in some other sentient beings ; or secondly, When they are 
the arbitrary or accidental concomitants of such feelings ; or thirdly, 
When they bear some analogy or fancied resemblance to things with 
which these emotions are necessarily connected." 

As examples of the first of these classes of association between matter 
and mind, Lord Jeffrey instances those associations where the object is 
necessarily and universally connected with the feeling by the law of 
nature, so that it is always presented to the senses when the feeling is 



presented to the mind ; as the sight or the sound of laughter, with the 
feeling of gaiety ; of weeping, with distress ; of the sound of thunder, 
with ideas of danger and power ; of a young and heautiful woman, as 
viewed by the pure and unenvying eye of one of her own sex, with 
youth and health, innocence, gaiety, sensibility, intelligence, delicacy or 
vivacity ; of a cultivated landscape, with the happiness of man ; of wild 
mountain scenery, with his romance ; of the season of spring, with the 
renovation of life ; of childhood, with innocence. The following charm- 
ing picture, illustrative of the manner in which we are affected by the 
beauty of landscape, is too applicable to the subject of the present work, 
to allow me to pass it over without doing justice to it in his Lordship's 
own words : — 

" It is easy enough to understand how the sight of a picture or 
statue should affect us nearly in the same way as the sight of the origi- 
nal ; nor is it much more difficult to conceive, how the sight of a cottage 
should 'give us something of the same feeling as the sight of a peasant's 
family, and the aspect of a town raise many of the same ideas as the 
appearance of a multitude of persons. We may begin therefore with an 
example a little more complicated. Take, for instance, the case of a 
common English landscape ; green meadows with fat cattle ; canals or 
navigable rivers ; well fenced, well cultivated fields ; neat, clean, scat- 
tered cottages ; humble antique church, with churchyard elms, and 
crossing hedge-rows, all seen under bright skies, and in good weather : 
there is much beauty, as every one will acknowledge, in such a scene. 
But in what does the beauty consist? Not certainly in the mere mixture 
of colours and forms ; for colours more pleasing, and lines more graceful, 
(according to any theory of grace that may be preferred,) might be 
spread upon a board or a painter's pallet, without engaging the eye to a 
second glance, or raising the least emotion in the mind ; but in the pic- 
ture of human happiness that is presented to our imaginations and affec- 
tions, — and in the visible and unequivocal signs of comfort ; and cheerful 
and peaceful enjoyment, — and of that secure and successful industry 
that insures its continuance, — and of the piety by which it is exalted, — 
and of the simplicity by which it is contrasted with the guilt and the 
fever of a city life, — in the images of health and temperance and plenty 
which it exhibits to every eye, — and in the glimpses which it affords to 
warmer imaginations, of those primitive or fabulous times, when man was 
uncorrupted by luxury and ambition, and of those humble retreats in 
which we still delight to imagine that love and philosophy may find an 
unpolluted asylum. At all events, however, it is human feeling that ex- 
cites our sympathy, and forms the object of our emotions. It is man, 



and man alone, that wc see in the beauties of the earth which lie in- 
habits ; — or, if a more sensitive and extended sympathy connect us with 
the lower families of animated nature, and make us rejoice with the 
lambs that bleat on the uplands, or the cattle that ruminate in the valley, 
or even with the living plants that drink the bright sun and the balmy 
air beside them, it is still the idea of enjoyment — of feelings that animate 
sentient beings — that calls forth all our emotions, and is the parent of 
all the beauty with which we proceed to invest the inanimate creation 
around us. 

" Instead of this quiet and tame English landscape, let us take a Welsh 
or a Highland scene, and see whether its beauties will admit of being 
explained on the same principle. Here we shall have lofty mountains, 
and rocky and lonely recesses, — tufted woods hung over precipices, — 
lakes intersected with castled promontories, — ample solitudes of un- 
ploughed and untrodden valleys, — nameless and gigantic ruins, — and 
mountain echoes repeating the scream of the eagle and the roar of the 
cataract. This too is beautiful ; and, to those who can interpret the 
language it speaks, far more beautiful than the prosperous scene with 
which we have contrasted it. Yet, lonely as it is, it is to the recollec- 
tion of man and of human feelings that its beauty also is owing. The 
mere forms and colours that compose its visible appearance, are no more 
capable of exciting any emotion in the mind, than the forms and colours 
of a Turkey carpet. It is sympathy with the present or the past, or the 
imaginary inhabitants of such a region, that alone gives it either interest 
or beauty ; and the delight of those who behold it, will always be found 
to be in exact proportion to the force of their imaginations, and the 
warmth of their social affections. The leading impressions here, are those 
of romantic seclusion and primeval simplicity ; lovers sequestered in these 
blissful solitudes, ' from towns and toils remote and rustic poets and 
philosophers communing with nature, at a distance from the low pursuits 
and selfish malignity of ordinary mortals ; — then there is the sublime 
impression of the Mighty Power which piled the massive cliffs upon one 
another, and rent the mountains asunder, and scattered their giant 
fragments at their base, — and all the images connected with the monu- 
ments of ancient magnificence and extinguished hostility — the feuds, 
and the combats, and the triumphs of its wild and primitive inhabitants, 
contrasted with the stillness and desolation of the scenes where they lie 
interred, — and the romantic ideas attached to their ancient traditions 
and the peculiarities of their present life, — their wild and enthusiastic 
poetry, — their gloomy superstitions, — their attachment to their chiefs, — 
the dangers, and the hardships, and enjoyments of their lonely huntings 



and fishings, — their pastoral shielings on the mountains in summer, — 
and the tales and the sports that amuse the little groups that are frozen 
into their vast and trackless valleys in winter. Add to this the traces 
of vast and obscure antiquity that are impressed on the language and 
habits of the people, and on the cliffs, and caves, and gulfy torrents of 
the land, — and the solemn and touching reflection perpetually recurring, 
of the weakness and insignificance of perishable man, whose generations 
thus pass away into oblivion, with all their toils and ambition, while 
nature holds on her unvarying course, and pours out her streams, and 
renews her forests, with undecaying activity, regardless of the fate of 
her proud and perishable sovereign." 

Of the second class of associations, those in which the external object 
is not the natural and necessary, but only the occasional or accidental 
concomitant of the emotion which it recalls, Lord Jeffrey brings forward 
instances where the perception of beauty is not universal, but entirely 
dependent on the opportunities which each individual has had to asso- 
ciate ideas of emotion with the object to which it is ascribed. Take, for 
example, the instance of the beauty of woman — how different and incon- 
sistent are the standards fixed for it in Africa, in Asia, and in Europe ; 
in Tartary and in Greece ; in Lapland, Patagonia, and Circassia. The 
same national difference and opposition of taste occurs regarding land- 
scape, architecture, dress, and indeed every external object, so that the 
remark is most natural, and the conclusion irresistible, that if there really 
were any thing absolutely or intrinsically beautiful in any of the forms 
thus distinguished, it is inconceivable that men should differ so widely 
in their conceptions of it ; and if beauty were a real and independent 
quality, it is impossible that it should be distinctly and clearly felt by 
one class of persons, where another, altogether as sensitive, can see 
nothing but its opposite — and if it were actually and inseparably attached 
to certain forms, colours, or proportions, it must appear utterly inexpli- 
cable, that it should be felt and perceived, in the most opposite forms 
and proportions, in objects of the same description. A similar, difference 
of taste is to be found in individuals as well as in nations, and neces- 
sarily, in an infinitely greater variety. 

The third class of associations is that which external objects mav 
have with our internal feelings, and the power they may have in sug- 
gesting them, in consequence of a sort of resemblance or analogy which 
they seem to have to their natural and appropriate objects. The lan- 
guage of poetry is founded upon this analogy — all language is full of it 
— and numerous examples of it will exhibit themselves among those 


illustrations of the theory which I shall have occasion to give in the 
course of my farther and more detailed exposition. 

Although Mr. Alison seems to consider that the actual character of 
beauty or of sublimity never can be fully developed except when a chain 
of reverie is produced, yet the necessity of such a chain being always 
preceded by a primary and originating simple emotion, is fully admitted 
by him. He asserts that no objects or qualities of objects can be felt 
to be beautiful or sublime, but such as are productive of some simple 
emotion ; and that, whenever we would explain the beauty or sublimity 
of any object, we uniformly proceed to point out the interesting or affect- 
ing quality in it which is fitted to produce this simple emotion. It is 
not only impossible for us to imagine an object of taste that is not a 
cause of emotion, but it is impossible to describe any such object with- 
out resting the description on that quality. " Every man," says Mr. 
Alison, " has had reason to observe a difference in his sentiments with 
regard to the beauty of particular objects from those of other people, 
either in his considering certain objects as beautiful which did not appear 
so to them, or in their considering certain objects as beautiful which did 
not appear so to him. There is no instance of this more common than 
in the case of airs in music. In the first case of such a difference of 
opinion, we generally endeavour to recollect whether there is not some 
accidental association of pleasure which we have with such objects, and 
which affords us that delight which other people do not share ; and it 
not unfrequently happens that we assign such associations as the cause 
of our pleasure, and as an apology for differing with them in opinion. 
In the other case, we generally take it for granted that they who feel a 
beauty where we do not, have some pleasing association with the object 
in question, of which we are unconscious, and which is accordingly pro- 
ductive to them of that delight in which we are unable to share. In 
both cases, though we may not discover what the particular association 
is, we do not fail to suppose that some such association exists which is 
the foundation of the sentiment of beauty, and to consider this difference 
of opinion as sufficiently accounted for on such a supposition. This very 
natural kind of reasoning could not take place if we did not find, from 
experience, that those objects only are productive of the sentiment of 
beauty, which are capable of exciting emotion." 

Just so it is that our tastes change from infancy to manhood. It is 
only when we reach this mature state, that our taste, aided by edu- 
cation, much observation, and perhaps, too, by travel, becomes stored 
with so extensive a range of associations, as to enable us to discover and 



to relish every species of beauty and sublimity, and skilfully to select and 
prefer those of highest poetical influence. And to render this state the 
more complete, the individual must not have been chained down to any 
one narrowing habit of thought, either professional or otherwise ; for 
where large opportunities of emancipating the mind from such trammels 
have not been enjoyed, the taste will always be allied to the occupation ; 
and, therefore, it is chiefly in the higher stations, and more liberal profes- 
sions, that delicate and correct tastes are to be found. Original character, 
or a tendency to particular emotions, has a potent effect. To quote Mr 
Alison's words: — u There are men, for instance, who, in all the varie- 
ties of external nature, find nothing beautiful, but as it tends to awaken 
in them a sentiment of sadness, who meet the return of spring with 
minds only prophetic of its decay, and who follow the decline of autumn 
with no other remembrance than that the beauties of the year arc gone. 
There arc men, on the contrary, to whom every appearance of nature is 
beautiful, as awakening a sentiment of gaiety, to whom spring and 
autumn alike are welcome, because they bring to them only different 
images of joy ; and who, even in the most desolate and wintry scenes, 
arc yet able to discover something in which their hearts may rejoice. 
It is not surely that nature herself is different, that effects so different 
are produced upon the imaginations of these men ; but it is because the 
original constitution of their minds has led them to different habits of 
emotion ; because their imaginations seize only those expressions in 
nature which arc allied to their prevailing dispositions ; and because 
every other appearance is indifferent to them but those which fall in 
with the peculiar sensibility of their hearts. The gaiety of nature is 
alone beautiful to the cheerful man ; its melancholy to the man of sad- 
ness, because these alone are the qualities which accord with the emo- 
tions they are accustomed to cherish, and in which their imaginations 
delight to indulge." Just so, are different minds affected by the gay or 
the grave in poetry. Just so, when gay or when melancholy, we are 
affected with pain by the very same things that gave us jrfeasure when 
we were in an opposite state ; and there are moments when some secret 
spell of listlessness hangs over our minds, so as utterly to prevent us 
from reaping any enjoyment at all from our favourite airs, books, or 
landscapes, or indeed from any thing pleasing within our reach. The 
most glorious spectacles of nature, such as those of sunrise or sunset, will 
affect the same individual in a greater or lesser degree, or it may be not at 
all, precisely as his imagination may or may not be in a state for the enter- 
tainment of those emotions which they are capable of exciting, whilst 
under a favourable state of the imagination, the most unpromising objects 



may afford us delight. I have elsewhere illustrated this fact, by quoting 
at full length that beautiful little poetical tale by Mr. Crabbc, called " The 
Lover's Journey." Here I shall content myself with shortly noticing 
that the poet describes a youth mounting bis steed gaily in a fine summer 
morning, to ride to a neighbouring town, and meet by appointment the 
ladv of his love. He travels over a barren heath, through lanes of 
burning sand, over a common, through fens, and solitary salt marshes ; 
in short, through a wretched country, remarkable for its tedium and 
monotony, devoid of trees, meagerly covered with herbage of the worst 
description, and thinly animated with figures in themselves any thing but 
agreeable. Full of joyful anticipation, he sees nothing but beauty and 
exhilaration in all that he looks upon. He reaches the town, and arrives 
at the house of his fair one, where, instead of finding her, he receives a 
note informing him that she had been carried off by a friend on an 
excursion to her country house. Her note bids him follow her. Again 
he mounts, though in a very bad humour ; and, accordingly, while he 
now rides through a range of scenery which is naturally as rich and 
beautiful as the former was poor and ugly ; and although all the acci- 
dental circumstances connected with it are of the most pleasing and en- 
livening description, his eye, jaundiced by his unlooked for disappoint- 
ment, turns all he beholds into gall, and he sees nothing but deformity, 
both physical and moral, in the scenes through which he passes. He 
meets his charmer at her friend's house, and returns with her through the 
same lovely scenes to the town where she lives. They gave him actual 
pain before, but now he is too much occupied with her conversation, and 
delighted with her smiles, to notice them at all, more than if he were 
passing through them blindfolded. On the morning of the ensuing day, he 
returns home through the same dull scenery he had previously traversed 
on his way to visit the lady, but having now left his imagination behind 
with her who has his heart in keeping, he passes by all its monotonous 
and naturally disagreeable features, as if the shades of night veiled 
them from his view. I think that a happier illustration than this tale 
affords of the fact that our emotions of beauty are altogether dependent 
on the imagination, cannot be produced. To use the poet's own 
words : — 

" It is the soul that sees ; the outward eyes 
Present the object, but the mind descries ; 
And thence delight, disgust, or cool indifference rise. 
When minds are joyful, then we look around, 
And what is seen, is all on fairy ground ; 
Again they sicken, and on every view 
Cast their own dull and melancholy hue ; 



Or if, absorb'd by their peculiar cares, 
The vacant eye on viewless matter glares, 
Our feelings still upon our views attend, 
And their own natures to the objects lend." 

Thus it is that minds which have most leisure for the indulgence of 
imagination, have the greatest aptitude for receiving strong impressions 
from such objects ; and thus it is that the attention required for the 
exercise of minute criticism, is found to diminish the sense of the beau- 
ties of the work which is the subject of it ; and from the same cause we 
find that young people, being carried away by their imaginations, have 
some difficulty in forming a judgment of the true merits of any composi- 
tion of fancy. To which I may add, that much of that endless variety, 
and even contrariety of opinion, which manifests itself among readers 
regarding the merits of such works, may be attributed to the difference 
in the nature of their minds, as well as of their degree of excitability. 

Our sense of the sublimity or beauty of objects depends entirely upon 
those qualities in them which we consider at the moment. On first see- 
ing the Venus de Medecis, or the Apollo Belvedere, the delicacy, mo- 
desty, and tenderness of the one, and the grace, dignity, and majesty of 
the other, will naturally awaken sympathetic association — whilst, at 
other times, the consideration of their mere forms as works of art, their 
dimensions, their proportions, their state of preservation, the history of 
their discovery, or even the sort of marble of which they are made, may 
stifle all the emotions of beauty. The same remark is applicable to poetry 
and painting ; and it is thus that the too great exercise of criticism often 
ends in the destruction of the sensibility of taste, and the delight pro- 
duced by the perception of beauty or sublimity ceases to affect us in 
any higher degree than that which attaches to the estimation of the dex- 
terity of art. Familiarity also brings us to look without emotion upon 
those very objects of art or nature which once produced within us the 
liveliest feelings of delight. A man of taste, taking up his residence in 
a romantic district, revels at first rapturously in its scenery; but fami- 
liarity soon renders him indifferent to it, except when his attention is 
called to its beauties — as, for example, when it becomes necessary to 
point them out to others, or when, perhaps, in some solitary hour, he may 
wander through his walks in dreamy contemplative admiration, yielding 
himself up, at every turn, to the successive associations that may be 
awakened within him. In the same way, the richest and most ex- 
quisite specimens of art that may adorn a mansion, soon cease to com- 
mand the admiring eye of the owner, except when it is thus accidentally 
called to them. On the same principle, every one will see that the Ilyssus, 



the Tybcr, the Forum, the Capitol, could not have produced any such 
emotion in the Greek or the Roman, who daily beheld them, as they do 
in us, to whom they are hallowed by distance and heroic association. 
Fashion, too, makes us one day admire that which on another day we 
despise, and which again finds favour in our sight from the mere 
arbitrary circumstance, that it is the custom of the great. The reign- 
ing mode, both as to form and colour, is held to be intrinsically ele- 
gant and beautiful by the young and the frivolous of both sexes, while 
they are prone to ridicule those of their fathers. But had they been 
born in the days of their fathers, they would have just as certainly 
admired that which they now laugli at as absurd. Those who are 
most liable to the education of fashion, therefore, are the people on 
whom the slighter kinds of associations have a strong effect. In the 
words of Mr. Alison — " A plain man is incapable of such associations — 
a man of sense is above them — but the young and the frivolous, whose 
principles of taste are either unformed, or whose minds are unable to 
sustain any settled opinions, are apt to lose sight of every other quality 
in such objects, but their relation to the practice of the great, and, of 
course, to suffer their sentiments of beauty to vary with the caprice of 
this practice. It is the same cause that attaches the old to the fashions 
of their youth. They are associated with the memory of their better days 
— with a thousand recollections of happiness, and gaiety, and heartfelt 
pleasures, which they now no longer feel. The fashions of modern times 
have no such pleasing associations for them. They are connected to 
them only with ideas of thoughtless gaiety, or childish caprice. It is the 
fashion of their youth alone that they consider as beautiful." 

It is plain, then, that there can be no intrinsic beauty or deformity in 
any of those fashions, and that the forms, colours, and materials that are 
felt to be so decidedly beautiful when they are in fashion, are sure to 
lose all their beauty when the fashion has passed away. The full-bot- 
tomed wigs under which the heroic generals of Louis XIV. and our own 
William fought, had no doubt a noble effect in the eyes of the people of 
the age in which they were worn, but, when so used, they appear ridicu- 
lous in our eyes from their inseparable association with the ecclesiastical 
warriors, and forensic combatants by whom they have been now exclu- 
sively adopted. 

Mr. Alison happily observes, that " the scenes which have been dis- 
tinguished by the residence of any one whose memory we love to che- 
rish, or whose character we admire, produce in us the strongest emotions 
of beauty and sublimity — ' Movemur enim, nescio quo ymcto, locis ipsis, 
in quibus eorum, q?ws dilicfimus, aut achniramnr, adsunt vestigia.' The 


scenes themselves may be little beautiful, but the delight with which we 
recollect the traces of their lives, blends itself insensibly with the emo- 
tions which the scenery itself excites ; and the admiration which these 
recollections afford, seems to give a kind of sanctity to the place where 
they dwell, and converts every thing into beauty that appears to have 
been connected with them. There are scenes undoubtedly more beauti- 
ful than Runnymede, yet to those who recollect the great event which 
passed there, there is no scene perhaps which so strongly seizes upon 
the imagination ; and although the emotions this recollection produces 
are of a very different kind from those which the mere natural scenery 
can excite, yet they unite themselves so well with these inferior emotions, 
and spread so venerable a charm over the whole, that one can hardly 
persuade oneself that the scene itself is not entitled to this admiration. 
The valley of Vaucluse is celebrated for its beauty, yet how much of it 
has been owing to its being the residence of Petrarch \" 

This species of association must have been frequently recognized by 
every one of the smallest observation, and every such person must 
admit the truth of Mr. Alison's remark, that " the majesty of the Alps 
themselves is increased by the remembrance of Hannibal's march over 
them ; and who is there who can stand on the bank of the Rubicon, 
without feeling his imagination kindle, and his heart beat high !" 

Such associations have the most wonderful effect in augmenting the 
impression of beauty or sublimity received from musical composition. 
The effects of the Renz des Vaches on the men of the Swiss regiment 
in the service of France, are well known. I may also instance what has 
frequently come under my own observation, — the stirring effect produced 
on the officers and men of a regiment by its regimental tune, though it 
had in it no merit but that of association to give it any such influence. 

" The beauty of any scene in nature," says Mr. Alison, " is seldom so 
striking to others as it is to a landscape painter, or to those who profess 
the beautiful art of laying out grounds. The difficulties both of inven- 
tion and execution, which, from their professions, are familiar to them, 
render the profusion with which nature often scatters the most pictu- 
resque beauties, little less than miraculous. Every little circumstance 
of form and perspective, and light and shade, which are unnoticed by a 
common eye, are important in theirs, and mingling in their minds the 
ideas of difficulty and facility in overcoming it, produce altogether an 
emotion of delight incomparably more animated than the generality of 
mankind usually derive from it." 

The pleasure derived by the antiquarian from the contemplation of 
ancient relics, arises from his imagination being carried back to the times 




of chivalry and patriotism. There are few, indeed, who have not felt 
somewhat of the delight which is thus excited. In the language of Mr. 
Alison, — " Even the peasant, whose knowledge of former times extends 
but to a few generations, has yet in his village some monument of the 
deeds or virtues of his forefathers, and cherishes with a fond veneration 
the memorial of those good old times to which his imagination returns 
with delight, and of which he loves to recount the simple tales that 
tradition has brought him. And what is it that constitutes the emotion 
of sublime delight, which every man of common sensibility feels upon 
the first prospect of Rome ? It is not the scene of destruction which is 
before him. It is not the Tyber, diminished in his imagination to a paltry 
stream, flowing amidst the ruins of that magnificence which it once 
adorned. It is not the triumph of superstition over the wreck of human 
greatness, and its monuments erected upon the very spot where the first 
honours of humanity have been gained. It is ancient Rome which fills 
his imagination. It is the country of Caesar, of Cicero, and Virgil, which 
is before him. It is the mistress of the world which he sees, and who 
seems to him to rise again from her tomb to give laws to the universe. 
All that the labours of his youth, or the studies of his maturer age have 
acquired, with regard to the history of this great people, open at once on 
his imagination, and present him with a field of high and solemn imagery 
which can never be exhausted. Take from him these associations, — 
conceal from him that it is Rome that he sees, and how different would 
be his emotion !" 

As the great mass of mankind live in the world without receiving any 
kind of delight from the various scenes of beauty which it displays, so we 
may all remember a period of our lives when our minds were quite as 
callous. But from early education, an acquaintance with poetry, with 
the romantic part of history, with painting, and with a thousand other 
causes productive of associations, this new and invaluable source of delight 
was gradually opened to us. ce Associations of this kind," says Mr. 
Alison, " when acquired in early life, are seldom altogether lost ; and 
whatever inconveniences they may sometimes have with regard to the 
general character, or however much they may be ridiculed by those who 
do not experience them, they are yet productive, to those who possess 
them, of a perpetual and innocent delight. Nature herself is their 
friend. In her most dreadful, as well as her most lovely scenes, they can 
discover something either to elevate their imaginations, or to move their 
hearts ; and amid every change of scenery, or of climate, they can still find 
themselves among the early objects of their admiration or their love." 

The great source of the superiority of good Landscape Gardening lies in 



the artist removing from the scene of his operations whatever is hostile to 
its effect or unsuited to its character, and by selecting or adding only 
such circumstances as accord with the general expression of the scene, 
to awaken emotions more full, more simple, and more harmonious, than 
any we can receive from the scenes of nature herself. The same prin- 
ciples apply to the artist's choice of subjects from nature for land- 
scape painting — the very nature of which, however, yields him infinitely 
greater facilities. But his happy selection must also be accompanied by 
pure, simple, and consistent composition. The unlearned eye first ad- 
mires painting merely as an art of imitation — it is only from the progress 
of our sensibility, and the poetical cultivation of our minds, that we be- 
gin to comprehend the greater compositions of genius, after which the 
unity of expression is felt to be the great secret of the power of painting. 
As the painter enjoys much greater facilities than the landscape gar- 
dener, so the poet, by speaking directly to the imagination, has immense 
advantages over the painter, who addresses himself to the eye. But he is 
subjected to the same rules for selection, and for the preservation of 
unity of character and expression, by which, indeed, the degree of the 
excellence of poetical description is chiefly determined. In short, in 
Mr. Alison's words — " In all the Fine Arts, that composition is most 
excellent, in which the different parts most fully unite in the production 
of one unmingled emotion, and that taste the most perfect, where the 
perception of this relation of objects, in point of expression, is most deli- 
cate and precise." 

In his second essay Mr. Alison asks the question — What is the source 
of the sublimity and beauty of the material world ? Many objects of the 
material world are productive of the emotions of sublimity and beauty. 
Yet matter in itself is unfitted to produce any kind of emotion. The 
qualities of mere matter are known to us only by means of our external 
senses, which can merely convey to us sensation and perception, and never 
emotion. The smell of a rose, the colour of scarlet, the taste of a pine- 
apple, produce agreeable sensations, not agreeable emotions; whilst 
assafoetida or aloes produce disagreeable sensations, but not disagreeable 
emotions. Now, although the qualities of matter are incapable of pro- 
ducing emotion, or the exercise of any affection, it is yet obvious that 
they may produce this effect from their association with other qualities, 
and as being the signs or expressions of such qualities as are fitted, by 
the constitution of our nature, to produce emotion. " Thus," to use 
Mr. Alison's words, " in the human body, particular forms or colours 
are the signs of particular passions or affections. In works of art, par- 
cular forms are the signs of dexterity, of taste, of convenience, of utility. 



In the works of nature., particular sounds and colours, &c. are the signs 
of peace, or danger, or plenty, or desolation, &c. In such cases the 
constant connection we discover between the sign and the thing signified, 
— between the material quality, and the quality productive of emotion, — 
renders at last the one expressive of the other, and very often disposes 
us to attribute to the sign, that effect which is produced only by the 
quality signified. The material qualities which distinguish a ship, a 
plough, a printing press, or a musical instrument, do not solely afford us 
the perception of certain colours or forms ; but, along with this percep- 
tion, bring with it the conception of the different uses or pleasures which 
such compositions of material qualities produce, and excite in us the same 
emotion with the uses or pleasures thus signified. As in this manner 
the utilities or pleasures of all external objects are expressed to us by 
their material signs of colour and of form, such signs are naturally pro- 
ductive of the emotions which properly arise from the qualities signified. 
All our knowledge of the minds of other men, and of their various qualities, 
is gained by means of material signs. Power, strength, wisdom, forti- 
tude, justice, benevolence, magnanimity, gentleness, tenderness, love, sor- 
row, are all known to us by the external signs of them in the countenance, 
gesture, or voice. Such material signs are therefore very early associated 
in our minds with the qualities they signify ; and as they are constant 
and invariable, they soon become productive to us of the same emotions 
with the qualities themselves." We learn by experience that certain 
qualities of mind are signified by certain qualities of body. When we 
find similar qualities of body in inanimate matter, we are apt to attribute 
to them the same expression, and to conceive them as signifying the same 
qualities in this case, as in those cases where they derive their expres- 
sion immediately from mind. Thus the strength, delicacy, boldness, and 
modesty of mind, are naturally and invariably applied to inanimate 
forms. The strength of the oak, the delicacy of the myrtle, the boldness 
of a rock, and the modesty of the violet, ere expressions common to all 
languages, and so " common that they are scarcely in any considered 
as figurative ; yet every man knows, that strength and weakness, bold- 
ness and modesty, are qualities not of matter but of mind, and that with- 
out our knowledge of mind, it is impossible that we should ever have 
had any conception of them. How much the effect of descriptions of 
natural scenery arises from that personification which is founded upon 
such associations, I believe there is no man of common taste who must 
not often have been sensible." 

The very constitution of our nature leads us to perceive resemblances 
between our sensations and emotions, and consequentlv between the ob- 



jects that produce them. " Thus," says Mr. Alison, " there is some 
analogy between the sensation of gradual ascent, and the emotion of 
ambition, — between the sensation of gradual descent, and the emotion 
of decay, — between the lively sensation of sunshine, and the cheerful 
emotion of joy, — between the painful sensation of darkness, and the di- 
spiriting emotion of sorrow. In the same manner, there are analogies 
between silence and tranquillity, — between the lustre of morning, and 
the gaiety of hope, — between softness of colouring, and gentleness of 
character, — between slenderness of form, and delicacy of mind, &c. The 
objects, therefore, which produce such sensations, though in themselves 
not the immediate signs of such interesting or affecting qualities, yet, 
in consequence of this resemblance, become generally expressive of them ; 
and, if not always, yet at those times, at least, when we are under the 
dominion of any emotion, serve to bring to our minds the images of those 
affecting or interesting qualities which we have been accustomed to sup- 
pose they resemble. How extensive this source of association is, may 
easily be observed in the extent of such kinds of figurative expression in 
every language/' 

To these sources of general association we must add those which pecu- 
liarly belong to individuals. There is not one who has not from accident — 
from his studies — or from some circumstances of his life — established cer- 
tain agreeable or disagreeable associations with particular colours, sounds, 
or forms, which never fail to operate the moment he sees or hears them. 

These examples are enough to show how numerous and extensive 
those associations are which are awakened by matter, and its qualities 
which have resemblance to qualities capable of producing emotion. The 
perception of the one immediately suggests the other ; and so early are 
these associations formed that it becomes difficult for us to avoid attribut- 
ing to the sign that effect which is alone produced by the quality signified. 
" If," says Mr. Alison, " the qualities of matter are in themselves fitted 
to produce the emotions of sublimity or beauty, (or, in other words, are 
in themselves beautiful or sublime,) I think it is obvious that they must 
produce these emotions independently of any association. If, on the con- 
trary, it is found that these qualities only produce such emotions when 
they are associated with interesting or affecting qualities, and that when 
such associations are destroyed they no longer produce the same emo- 
tions, I think it must also be allowed that their beauty or sublimity is to 
be ascribed, not to the material, but to the associated qualities!' 

Now the senses by which we discover beauty or sublimity in material 
objects are those of hearing and seeing. The objects of the first are 
sounds, simple or compound ; of the second, colours, forms, and motion. 


Of simple sounds we have those which occur in inanimate nature — 
the notes and cries of animals — and the tones of the human voice. Now, 
if any of these are really intrinsically sublime or beautiful in themselves, 
how does it happen that we find contrary sounds producing the same 
effect, and the same sounds producing different effects, according to the 
associations with which they are connected ? All sounds are sublime 
which are associated with ideas of danger, as thunder — the howling of 
a storm — the rombo of an earthquake — and the roar of artillery : or 
with ideas of power or might, as the rushing sound of a torrent — the 
fall of a cataract — the uproar of a tempest — the explosion of gunpowder 
— and the dashing of the waves : or with ideas of majesty, solemnity, or 
deep melancholy, or any other such strong emotion, as the sound of the 
trumpet and other warlike instruments — the tones of the organ — the 
sound of the curfew — and the tolling of the passing bell. Now, if such 
sounds as these had any inherent character of sublimity in them, the 
same sounds would at all times produce the same emotions. But let us 
take for example the sound of thunder, which is perhaps of all others in 
nature the most sublime. " In the generality of mankind/' says Mr. 
Alison, " this sublimity is founded on awe, and some degree of terror. 
Yet how different is the emotion which it gives to the peasant who sees 
at last, after a long drought, the consent of Heaven to his prayers for 
rain, — to the philosopher, who, from the height of the Alps, hears it roll 
beneath his feet, — to the soldier, who, under the impression of ancient 
superstition, .welcomes it upon the moment of engagement as the omen 
of victory ! In all these cases the sound itself is the same ; but how 
different the nature of the sublimity it produces ! There is nothing 
more common than for people who are afraid of thunder to mistake some 
very common and indifferent sound for it ; as the rumbling of a cart, or 
the rattling of a carriage. While their mistake continues they feel the 
sound as sublime. The moment they are undeceived, they are the first 
to laugh at their error, and to ridicule the sound that occasioned it. 
Children at first are as much alarmed at the thunder of the stage as at 
real thunder. Whenever they find that it is only a deception, they amuse 
themselves with mimicking it. It may be observed, also, that very young 
children show no symptoms of fear or admiration at thunder, unless, per- 
haps when it is painfully loud, or when they see other people alarmed 
about them, obviously from their not having yet associated with it the 
idea of danger— and perhaps, also, from this cause, that our imagination 
assists the report, and makes it appear much louder than it really is, a 
circumstance which seems to be confirmed by the common mistake we 
make of taking very inconsiderable noises for it." In support of this 



observation of Mr. Alison, I may mention a common trick of my boy- 
hood, which I often performed to the infinite alarm of certain ladies. 
I used stealthily to hold a sheet of drawing paper over the window, 
and whilst I pretended to listen as if I had heard thunder afar off, I 
gently agitated the paper, and so produced an exact imitation of the 
sound of its distant rolling, to the great discomfiture of my audience. 
In the same way the sound of cannon is sublime from the destructive 
power we associate with it. But although the noise of artillery and 
musquetry in a distant engagement, associated as it is with the fell work 
that is doing, is awfully sublime, the same sound when heard in a review 
loses all such effect ; and, if not painful to the ear, is more likely to pro- 
mote laughter than any other feeling. So it is with all the other sounds 
that have been mentioned. Whilst loud and tumultuous sounds very gen- 
erally produce emotions of sublimity, we often find the same emotions 
produced by low and feeble sounds. That low moaning which precedes 
the burst of the storm is often more sublime than the burst of the storm 
itself. The buzz of flies in the deep silence of a summer's day, associated 
as it is with the power of the Great Creator of all things, who has thus 
called so incalculable an exuberance of happy animal life into being, to 
exist only for a brief space, as if it were a type of the brevity of the 
life of man, is truly sublime to the reflective mind. The falling of a drop 
of water, a sound most insignificant in itself at all other times, becomes 
sublime when heard at intervals descending from the vaulted roof of 
some lofty cathedral or cavern. Nay, even the vulgar sound of a ham- 
mer becomes sublime when we know that it is employed in the erec- 
tion of the scaffold on which mistaken or misled patriotism is about to 
suffer; or when heard, as in Shakspeare, during the night previous to a 
battle, when 

" from the tents 

The armourer's accomplishing the knights. 
With busy hammers closing rivets up, 
Give dreadful note of preparation."' 

The buzz of flies, the dropping of water, and the sound of a hammer, 
are sounds so truly uninteresting in themselves, that their sublimity 
in the instances quoted can only be attributed to the qualities of which 
they are the signs. The trumpet becomes sublime or ludicrous, just as 
it is used in battle or at a raree-show ; and in the same way the sound 
of a bell becomes sublime or the reverse, as it may be carried before a 
funeral, as we often see it in Roman Catholic processions, or hung to a 
dustman's cart. 

The sounds productive of the emotion of Beauty, such as that of the 


gentle waterfall — the murmuring of a rivulet — the soft whispering of a 
zephyr — the sheep-fold bell — the sound of the curfew — are all subject 
to the same changes. The curfew, for instance, which 

" tolls the knell of parting day," 

and which is so beautiful in moments of melancholy or tranquillity, is 
directly the reverse in joyful or cheerful moments. The sound of the 
waterfall is delightful or disagreeable, just as it is heard amidst the luxu- 
riance of summer scenery, or the rigours of winter. The sound of the 
hunting-horn, so exhilarating and picturesque in seasons of gaiety, is in- 
supportable in hours of melancholy. There is but little beauty in the 
harsh twang of the postman's horn ; but associated, as it is by Cowper, 
with the 

" news from all nations lumbering at his back," 

and the quiet domestic enjoyment of the evening tea-table party, where 
they are about to be eagerly perused, it receives a charm which partakes 
of the beautiful. But it is only when we happen to be in that temper 
and condition of mind which suits with the emotions of which they are 
expressive, that such sounds are capable of exciting them. Whilst in 
such a condition, the sound of a cascade or a hunting-horn might even 
be imitated so as to awaken all those emotions which would arise from 
the real sounds, but the moment the trick was discovered, emotions of 
ridicule alone would be produced. 

The notes or cries of some animals are highly sublime ; such as the 
roar of the lion — the growl of the bear — the howl of the wolf — the 
scream of the eagle — because associated with animals remarkable for 
their strength, and formidable from their ferocity. There is not one of 
these sounds that may not be exactly imitated ; and whilst the deception 
is kept up, the sublime emotions will be produced, to cease, and to be 
converted into those of ridicule the moment the deceit is discovered. 
" Then," says Mr. Alison, " the howl of the wolf is little distinguished 
from the howl of the dog, either in its tone or in its strength ; but there is 
no comparison between their sublimity. There are few, if any, of these 
sounds so loud as the most common of* all sounds, the lowing of a cow. 
Yet this is the very reverse of sublimity. Imagine this sound, on the con- 
trary, expressive of fierceness or strength, and there can be no doubt that 
it would become sublime. The hooting of the owl at midnight, or amid 
ruins, is strikingly sublime ; the same sound at noon, or during the day, is 
very far from being so. The scream of the eagle is simply disagreeable 
when the bird is either tame or confined ; it is sublime only when it is 
heard amid rocks and deserts, and when it is expressive to us of liberty and 



independence, and savage majesty. The neighing of a war-horse in 
the field of battle, or of a young and untamed horse when at large among 
mountains, is powerfully sublime. The same sound in a cart-horse, or 
a horse in the stable, is simply indifferent, if not disagreeable. No 
sound is more absolutely mean than the grunting of swine. The same 
sound in the wild-boar — an animal remarkable both for fierceness and 
strength — is sublime. The low and feeble sounds of animals which are 
generally considered the reverse of sublime, are rendered so by associa- 
tion. The hissing of a goose, and the rattle of a child's play-thing, are 
both contemptible sounds ; but wheiuthe hissing sound comes from the 
mouth of a dangerous serpent, and the noise of the rattle is that of the 
rattlesnake, although they do not differ from the others in intensity, they 
are both of them highly sublime." 

That it is from association alone that the beauty of the notes of ani- 
mals arises, will appear evident from the following examples. Nothing 
can be more silly or absurd than the imitated sounds of the notes of the 
cuckoo as emitted by a child's toy, or by the machinery of a German 
clock. But when we hear the bird itself in the beginning of spring, 
how sweetly its notes fall upon the ear, associated as they are with 
primroses, and all the other budding beauties of nature ! And then, 
suppose that whilst walking abroad at such a season, some one were to 
deceive us by means of the wooden toy, would not all these exquisite 
feelings rush upon our minds, as certainly as if we were listening to the 
real notes of the bird ? and would not they all fly from us at once the 
moment that the deception should be discovered ? Then we know that 
those who from youth, from lack of education, or from other circum- 
stances, have formed no such associations, feel no such emotions of beauty 
from sounds which deeply affect those who are more favourably circum- 
stanced. A peasant laughs if you ask him to admire the call of a goat, 
the bleat of a sheep, or the lowing of a cow, yet association makes all 
these delightful to cultivated minds. A child shows no symptom of 
admiration at those sounds in rural scenery, which to other people are 
most affecting, and we can all look back to a period in our lives when 
we were altogether unaffected by those beautiful sounds which occur in 
the country, and we shall find that the period when we first became 
sensible of their beauty, was that when we first began to feel them as 
expressive of those associations which we have acquired either from our 
own observation of nature, or from the perusal of poetical works. And 
then, when we travel into distant countries, we find ourselves shocked 
with the notes of animals, which, from certain associations, are parti- 
cularly agreeable to the natives. The cry of the stork, for instance, is 


anything but pleasing to us, whilst to the Hollander it is singularly 
beautiful, owing to the bird being with him the object of a pleasing po- 
pular superstition. The bleating of a lamb is beautiful on the hillside 
in a fine spring day, but it fills us with the most disagreeable emotions 
w hen we hear it in a town, in winter, coming from the condemned cell 
of the butcher. The lowing of a cow is beautiful in a pastoral scene, 
but it is absolutely disagreeable in the farm-yard, and most painful when 
it conies from within the walls of the shambles. Even the song of the 
nightingale, so charming in the twilight or night, is so much disregarded 
during the dav, as to give rise to the common mistake that it never sings but 
at night. If such sounds as these, which have been now enumerated, were 
beautiful in themselves, they would necessarily be at all times beautiful. 

On the principle of the absolute and independent sublimity or* beauty 
inherent in sounds, it is impossible to explain the fact of the same effect 
being produced by sounds very opposite in their nature. Mr. Alison 
tells us, that " there is certainly no resemblance, as sounds, between the 
noise of thunder and the hissing of a serpent — between the growling of 
a tiger and the explosion of gunpowder — between the scream of the 
eagle and the shouting of a multitude ; yet all of these are sublime. In 
the same manner, there is as little resemblance between the tinkling of 
the sheep-fold bell and the murmuring of the breeze — between the hum 
of the beetle and the song of the lark — between the twitter of the swal- 
low and the sound of the curfew ; yet all these are beautiful." But the 
various modes by which they excite in us the same emotions, are easily 
explained and accounted for on the principle of association. 

The tones of the human voice are associated in our imaginations with 
the qualities of mind of which they are in general expressive ; and the 
beauty or sublimity of such tones arises from the nature of the qualities 
they express, and not from the nature of the sounds themselves. Such 
sounds are beautiful or sublime only as they express passions or affec- 
tions which excite our sympathy. The tones peculiar to anger, peevish- 
ness, malice, envy, misanthropy, deceit, &c, are neither agreeable nor 
beautiful. That of good nature is agreeable at particular seasons, but 
we regret the want of it more than w r e enjoy its presence. On the con- 
trary, the tones expressive of hope, joy, humility, gentleness, modesty, 
melancholy, &c, though all very different, are all beautiful, because the 
qualities they express are the objects of interest and approbation. For a 
similar reason, the tones expressive of magnanimity, fortitude, self-denial, 
patience, resignation, &c., are all sublime. But the effect of such sounds 
is limited by the temper of mind in which we happen to be. To a man 
in grief, the tone of cheerfulness is painful — that of indignation is un- 



pleasant to the man in a state of placidity of temper — that of patience is 
contemptible to an irritated man — to the peevish the voice of humility 
is provoking. Now, if the beauty or sublimity of such tones were inde- 
pendent of the qualities of mind we associate with them, the same sounds 
would uniformly produce the same emotions. 

Sounds united by certain laws produce music. Its essence consists 
in continued sounds, which must have a relation to each other. What 
thought is to the arrangement of words, the key or fundamental tone is 
to the arrangement of sounds, and to it all the other sounds in the series 
must bear relation. The succession of the sounds must possess a regu- 
larity as to time. The two circumstances, therefore, which determine 
the nature or character of every musical composition, are the nature of 
the key, and the nature of the progress — the nature of the fundamental 
governing sound, and the nature of the time of the succession. The 
relation of the fundamental tone, in musical compositions, to the ex- 
pression of the qualities of mind, is so strong that all musicians under- 
stand what keys or tones are fitted for the expression of those affections. 
We may find a difference of opinion as to whether any piece of music is 
beautiful or not ; but whether its sounds are gay or solemn — cheerful 
or melancholy — elevating or depressing — is seldom matter of dispute. 
When any musical composition affects us with the emotions of beauty 
or sublimity, it must be from the associations which we connect with it, 
or the qualities of which it is expressive to us. If the beauty or music 
arose from the regularity of its composition, according to the laws which 
are necessary to the constitution of music, every composition where 
those laws were observed would be beautiful. But if a composition ex- 
presses no sentiment, a common hearer feels no beauty in it ; and if it 
possesses neither novelty nor skill, a connoisseur in music feels as little 
of its emotion, and, consequently, all the world pronounce it to be bad 
music. If any one were asked what it was that rendered an air so 
beautiful, he would answer, because it was so plaintive, solemn, cheer- 
ful, tender, gay, or elevating, &c. ; but he would never think of describ- 
ing its peculiar nature as a composition of sounds. Music then is pro- 
ductive of two distinct pleasures — that mechanical pleasure which, by 
the constitution of our nature, accompanies the perception of a regular 
succession of related sounds — and that pleasure which originates the 
emotions of sublimity or beauty, by the expression of some pathetic or in- 
teresting affection, or by being the sign of some pleasing or valuable quality. 

In addition to these remarks, I may observe that early individual 
associations with certain airs, will always excite the strongest emotions 
of beauty or sublimity in our minds, and will melt us to tenderness, or 



excite us to fury. In illustration of this, I may here repeat an anecdote 
which I have given in another work. Some Scottish officers were coast- 
ing along the shores of the Mediterranean in a felucca; a woman's voice 
came warbling on their ears from the bosom of a grove ; the air was 
that lovely, simple, and touching melody of their native land, The Broom 
of the Cowdenknoics. The associations it awakened were such as to 
n lake every chord of their manly hearts vibrate with emotion, and they 
wept They landed in quest of the songstress, when, to their surprise, 
they discovered an old Scottish woman, seated at her cottage door, 
twirling her distaff, and lightening her task with these long-cherished 
strains of her youth. She was the widow of a soldier who had been 
killed in battle, and she had been thrown by the tide of accident into 
the spot where the gentlemen found her. Their grateful feelings 
prompted them to offer to convey her to her native country, in return 
for the delight they had experienced from the pleasurable associations 
with home which her notes had awakened. But, alas ! all her friends 
were dead — her native country was no longer her country — she was, 
as it were, rooted in the soil where she now vegetated, and, perhaps, she 
enjoyed her indulgence in those visionary visitations to the scenes of her 
youth, which the singing of its ballads procured for her, more than she 
could have done the really visiting her native land. 

The sense of sight enables us to discover beauty or sublimity in a 
much greater number of external objects than any of the other senses — 
a circumstance which inclines us to give greater confidence to that sense 
than to the rest ; and thus it is that the visible qualities of objects be- 
come in a great measure the signs of all their other qua^ties. Mr. 
Alison thus explains this proposition :- — " Not only the smell of the rose 
or the violet, is expressed to us by their colours and forms ; but the 
utility of a machine — the elegance of a design — the proportion of a 
column — the speed of the horse — the ferocity of the lion- — even all the 
qualities of the human mind, are naturally expressed to us by certain 
visible appearances, because our experience has taught us that such 
qualities are connected with such appearances, and the presence of the 
one immediately suggests to us the idea of the other. Such visible quali- 
ties, therefore, are gradually considered as the signs of other qualities, 
and are productive to us of the same emotions with the qualities they 
signify. But, besides this, it is also to be observed, that by this sense 
we not only discover the nature of individual objects, and therefore 
naturally associate their qualities with their visible appearance, but that 
by it also we discover the relation of objects to each other; and that 
hence a great variety of objects in nature become expressive of qualities 



which do not immediately belong to themselves, but to the objects with 
which we have found them connected. Thus, for instance, it is by this 
sense that we discover that the eagle inhabits among rocks and moun- 
tains — that the redbreast leaves the woods in winter to seek shelter and 
food among the dwellings of men — that the song of the nightingale is 
peculiar to the evening and the night, &c. In consequence of this per- 
manent connection, these animals acquire a character from the scenes 
they inhabit, or the seasons in which they appear, and are expressive to 
us, in some measure, of the character of these seasons and scenes. It is 
hence that so many objects become expressive, which perhaps in them- 
selves could never have been so — that the curfew is so solemn from 
accompanying the close of day — the twitter of the swallow so cheerful 
from its being heard in the morning — the bleating of sheep, the call of 
the goat, and the lowing of kine, so beautiful from their occurring in 
pastoral or romantic situations ; — in short, that the greatest number of 
natural objects acquire their expression from their connection with par- 
ticular or affecting scenes." 

Colours have the power of exciting emotions, from associations arising 
from the nature of objects permanently coloured. White is expressive 
of the cheerfulness which the return of day brings with it ; black, as the 
colour of darkness, is expressive of gloom or melancholy ; blue, the 
colour of a serene sky, is expressive of something of the same pleasing 
and temperate character ; green is associated with spring and all its 
charms. Many colours derive expression from their analogies with 
certain affections of the human mind ; soft or strong, mild or bold, gay 
or gloomy, cheerful or solemn, are terms applied to colours in all lan- 
guages. Others acquire character from accidental association ; purple 
and ermine have their dignity from association with the robes of kings ; 
scarlet, as the dress of our army, has a character correspondent to its 
employment, and, perhaps, it was this association that induced the blind 
man to liken his notion of scarlet to the sound of a trumpet. It is pos- 
sible that certain colours may, of themselves, produce agreeable or dis- 
agreeable physical sensations in the organs of vision, just as there may 
be painful sounds, but this circumstance does not affect the question. 
Most colours are considered beautiful in one country, and not so in 
another ; black, which is to us unpleasant, as associated with death, is 
otherwise to the Spaniard or Venetian, with whom it is the dress of the 
great ; yellow in dress is to us disagreeable, whilst in China it is the 
favourite colour, and sacred to the empire. To us white is beautiful, 
in China it is disagreeable, as being the colour of mourning. A new 
colour in dress is never admired till it has been worn by persons of rank 



and elegance, and thus become associated with them ; and so, when 
they cease to wear it, we find it sink into neglect and contempt, to he 
succeeded by some other colour. Those colours which association has 
taught us to admire in one thing, are, from the same cause, hideous to 
us in another. Rose colour, which is so beautiful in the flower, or in a 
damask curtain, would be horrible in the grass of the field, or in a 
table, or a door, or a window. Suppose the army and navy dressed in 
black, and the church and bar in scarlet, how ludicrous would be the 
effect of this violation of association. Nay, it is so difficult to reconcile 
us to any change, however small, that I must confess the red collar 
recently applied to the old true blue dress coat of our navy captains, 
though understood to be only a restoration from more ancient times, 
is to me a disagreeable innovation, as breaking in upon my associations 
with the simplicity of those distinguished uniforms in which our brave 
countrymen achieved the victories of the Nile and Trafalgar. Select 
all those colours which might be considered in themselves to be most 
beautiful when seen on the painter's pallet, and paint with them the 
rocks, the trees, or the animals of nature, how outrageously offensive 
would be the attempt ! Mr. Alison tells us the interesting fact, that 
Dr. Blacklock the poet, though blind from infancy, learned the distin- 
guishing colours of objects from books of poetry read to him, and that 
he thus acquired the same associations with the words expressive of 
them, as those w r ho see have done with the colours themselves, so that 
by these means he has composed poems from which no reader could 
possibly gather that he was blind. This is a strong confirmation of the 
opinion, that the beauty of such qualities arises from the associations we 
connect with them, and not from any original or independent beauty in 
the colours themselves. 

Form is that quality of matter which, of all others, produces the most 
general and natural emotions of sublimity and beauty. The sublimity 
and beauty of forms arise altogether from the associations we connect 
with them, or the qualities of which they are expressive to us — the 
expressions of such qualities as arise from the nature of the objects dis- 
tinguished by such forms, and the expressions of such qualities as arise 
from their being the subject or the production of art. The first is their 
natural beauty, the second their relative beauty. Besides these, there 
is another source of expression in such qualities from accidental associa- 
tion, which may be termed accidental beauty. 

Sublimity of form arises from the nature of the objects distinguished 
by that form, and from the quantity or magnitude of the form itself. 
Forms disnguishing objects associated with ideas of danger or of power, 



are sublime — such as cannons, mortars, military ensigns, armour, arms, 
&c. — forms distinguishing bodies of great duration, and consequently 
expressing power or strength. Hence forms of trees are sublime exact- 
ly in proportion to their expression of this quality ; and rocks, appearing 
coeval with creation, and which have outlived all the convulsions of 
nature, are sublime. So, architecture is the sublimest of arts ; and the 
Gothic castle is especially sublime, from its association with the many 
battle tides which have raged up ineffectually against its defences. The 
forms of the throne, the sceptre, the diadem, the triumphal car, and the 
triumphal arch, are sublime, from association with ideas of power and 
magnificence. Forms connected with ideas of awe or solemnity are 
sublime, such as the forms of temples ; and what, for example, can be 
more sublime than the Peestan temples, the very origin of which can be 
only guessed at, and which have outlived even the dust into which the 
city that once surrounded them has been crumbled by time. 

" They stand, between the mountains and the sea, 
Awful memorials, but of whom we know not. 
The seaman passing, gazes from the deck — 
The buffalo-driver, in his shaggy cloak, 
Points to the work of magic, and moves on. 
Time was they stood along the crowded street, 
Temples of gods ! And on their ample steps 
What various habits, various tongues beset 
The brazen gates for prayer and sacrifice ! " 

The thunderbolt of Jupiter, and the trident of Neptune, were sub- 
lime forms to the ancients, though utterly insignificant in themselves. 
The pall, the hearse, the robes of mourning, are sublime from this cause 
— and even the white plumes that nod over the car of death, are power- 
fully sublime, though their colour is in general so cheerful under other 
circumstances. The sublimity of these forms, therefore, clearly arises 
from the qualities which they express. In many forms we find their 
magnitude bestowing sublimity, for with magnitude we have many dis- 
tinct and powerful associations. In animal forms, it is associated with 
power and strength — for animals of great size that are feeble and harm- 
less are contemptible, even in the eyes of children. Magnitude of height 
is expressive of elevation of soul or magnanimity. Magnitude in depth 
is expressive of danger or terror, so that in all countries hell is considered 
to be an unfathomable abyss. Magnitude in breadth is expressive of 
stability, duration, and superiority to destruction ; hence towers, forts, 
and castles are sublime, and of all other works of art, the Pyramids are 
most sublime, not only because of their magnitude, and that their form 



is of so enduring a nature, but also from their mysterious origin, and the 
immense duration of their existence. It is from such associations alone, 
and from no original fitness in the quality itself, that magnitude is sub- 
lime ; for there is no determinate degree of magnitude that constitutes 
sublimity, and the same visible magnitude which is sublime in one sub- 
ject, is often very far from being sublime in another. 

Form is matter bounded by lines, which may be either angular or 
curved. Most bodies in nature possessing hardness, strength, or dura- 
bility, are distinguished by angular forms, such as rocks, stones, metals, 
strong and durable plants, &c. Those possessing weakness, fragility, or 
delicacy, have winding or curvilinear forms, such as the feeble and 
more delicate race of plants. The same holds in the animal kingdom. 
The infancy of plants and animals is generally distinguished by winding 
or serpentine forms, and thence arise the associations expressive of in- 
fancy, tenderness, and delicacy, with curvilinear forms — and of matu- 
rity, strength, and vigour, with those which are more angular. Besides 
this, our sense of touch early informs us that angular forms are expres- 
sive of roughness, sharpness, harshness — and winding forms, of softness, 
smoothness, delicacy, and fineness. Hence associations with these qua- 
lities are easily caught by the eye from the forms of the bodies before 
us, and the epithets bold, harsh, gentle, delicate, are universally applied 
to forms in all languages. (< Among these qualities," says Mr. Alison, 
" those of gentleness, fineness, or delicacy, are the most remarkable, and 
the most generally expressed in common language. In describing the 
beautiful forms of ground, we speak of gentle declivities, and gentle 
swells. In describing the beautiful forms of water, we speak of a mild 
current, gentle falls, soft windings, a tranquil stream. In describing the 
beautiful forms of the vegetable kingdom, we use a similar language. 
The delicacy of flowers, of foliage, of the young shoots of trees and 
shrubs, are expressions every where to be heard, and which every where 
convey the belief of beauty in these forms. In the same manner, in 
those ornamental forms which are the production of art, we employ the 
same language to express our opinion of their beauty. The delicacy of 
a wreath, of a festoon, of drapery, of a column, or of a vase, are terms 
universally employed, and employed to signify the reason of our admira- 
tion of their forms. If we were to describe the most beautiful vase in 
technical terms, and according to the distinguished characteristics of its 
form, no one but an artist would have any tolerable conception of its 
beauty ; but if we were simply to describe it as peculiarly delicate in all 
its parts, we should probably leave with every one the impression of the 
beauty of its form." To children, every form of things which they love 



or take pleasure in, is beautiful ; and so also with common people. If 
there really were any original and independent beauty in form, the pre- 
ference of this form would be early and distinctly marked in the language 
of children, and in the opinions of mankind. 

In the greater part of beautiful forms, whether in nature or art, lines 
of different descriptions unite. The greater part of the forms of nature 
and art possess an union or composition of uniformity and variety, of 
similarity and dissimilarity of forms. But were such a composition in 
itself beautiful, it would necessarily follow, that, in every case where it 
was found, beauty would be the result. This is not the case, however, 
as will be seen from the following passage from Mr. Alison's work, 
which I extract verbatim at the greater length, because it bears so par- 
ticularly on the subject of the present work : — " Every one knows that 
the mere union of similarity and dissimilarity does not constitute a beau- 
tiful form. In the forms of ground, of water, of vegetables, of orna- 
ments, &c, it is difficult to find any instance of a perfectly simple form, 
or in which lines of different descriptions do not unite. It is obvious, 
however, that such objects are not beautiful in so great a proportion, and 
that, on the contrary, in all of them there are cases where this mixture 
is mere confusion, and in no respect considered as beautiful. If we en- 
quire farther, what is the circumstance which distinguishes beautiful 
objects of these kinds, it will be found, I believe, that it is some deter- 
mined character or expression which they have to us, and that when this 
expression is once perceived we immediately look for and expect some 
relation among the different parts to this general character. It is almost 
impossible for instance, to find any form of ground which is not com- 
plex, or in which different forms do not unite. Amid a great extent of 
landscape, however, there are few spots in which we are sensible of 
beauty in their original formation, and wherever such spots occur, they 
are always distinguished by some prominent character, such as great- 
ness, wildness, gaiety, tranquillity, or melancholy. As soon as this 
impression is made, as soon as we feel the expression of the scene, 
we immediately become sensible that the different forms that com- 
pose it are suited to this character ; we perceive, and very often we 
imagine, a correspondence among these parts, and we say accordingly 
that there is a relation and harmony among them, and that nature 
has been kind in combining different circumstances with so much pro- 
priety for the production of one effect. We amuse ourselves also 
in imagining improvements to the scenes, either in throwing out some 
circumstances which do not correspond, or in introducing new ones, by 
which the general character may be more effectually supported. All 




this beauty of composition, however, would have been unheeded, if the 
scene itself had not some determinate character; and all that we intend 
by these imaginary improvements, either in the preservation of greater 
uniformity, or in the introduction of greater variety, is to establish a 
more perfect relation among the different parts to this peculiar character. 

" In the laving out of grounds, in the same manner, every one knows, 
that the mere composition of similar and dissimilar forms, does not con- 
stitute Beauty ; that some character is necessary to which we may refer 
the relation of the different parts ; and that where no such character can 
be created, the composition itself is only confusion. It is upon these 
principles accordingly, that we uniformly judge of the beauty of such 
scenes. If there is no character discernible, no general expression which 
may afford our imaginations the key of the scene, although we may be 
pleased with its neatness, or its cultivation, we feel no beauty whatever 
in its composition ; and we leave it with no other impression than that 
of regret, that so much labour and expense should be thrown away upon 
so confused and ungrateful a subject. If, on the other hand, the scene 
is expressive, if the general form is such as to inspire some peculiar 
emotion ; and the different circumstances such as to correspond to this 
effect, or to increase it, we immediately conclude that the composition is 
good, and yield ourselves willingly to its influence. If, lastly, amid such 
a scene, we find circumstances introduced which have no relation to the 
general character or expression ; if forms of gaiety and gloom — greatness 
and ornament — rudeness and tranquillity, &c. are mingled together with- 
out any attention to one determinate effect, we turn with indignation from 
the confusion, and conclude that the composition is defective in its first 
principles. In all cases of this kind we become sensible of the beauty 
of composition only when the scene has some general character^ to which 
the different forms in composition can refer ; and we determine its beauty 
by the effect of this union in maintaining or promoting this general ex- 
pression. The same observation may be extended to the forms of wood 
and water. * * * In the vegetable world, also, if the mere composition 
of uniformity and variety were sufficient to constitute beauty, it would 
be almost impossible to find any instance where vegetable forms should 
not be beautiful. That this is not the case every one knows ; and the 
least attention to the language of mankind will show, that, wherever such 
forms are beautiful, they are felt as characteristic or expressive, and that 
the beauty of the composition is determined by the same principle which 
regulates our opinions with regard to the compositions of the forms of 
ground. The beautiful forms which we ourselves remark in this king- 
dom — the forms which have been selected by sculptors for embellish- 
ment or ornament — by painters for the effect of landscape — by poets for 



description or allusion — are all such as have some determinate expression 
or association ; their beauty is generally expressed by epithets significant 
of this character ; and if we are asked the reason of our admiration, we 
immediately assign this expression as a reason satisfactory to ourselves 
for the beauty we discover in them. As soon also as we find this expression 
in any vegetable form, we perceive, or we demand, a relation among the 
different parts to this peculiar character. If this relation is maintained, 
we feel immediately that the composition of the form is good. We 
show it as a beautiful instance of the operation of nature ; and we speak 
of it as a form in which the utmost harmony and felicity of composition 
is displayed. If, on the contrary, the different parts do not seem ad- 
justed to the general character, — if, instead of an agreement among those 
parts in the maintaining or promoting this expression, there appears only 
a mixture of similar and dissimilar parts, without any correspondence or 
alliance, we reject it as a confused and insignificant form, without mean- 
ing or beauty. If, in the same manner, the general form has no expres- 
sion, we pass it by without attention, and with a conviction, that where 
there is no character to which the relation of the different parts may be 
referred, there can be no propriety or beauty in its composition. In the 
different species of vegetables which possess expression, and which con- 
sequently admit of beauty in composition, it is observable, also, that 
every individual does not possess this beauty, and it is the same prin- 
ciple which determines our opinion of the beauty of individuals, that 
determines our opinion of the beauty of different species. The oak, 
the myrtle, the weeping willow, the vine, the ivy, the rose, &c. are 
beautiful classes of plants ; but every oak and myrtle, Sec. does not con- 
stitute a beautiful form. The many physical causes which affect their 
growth, affect also their expression ; and it is only when they possess in 
purity the peculiar character of the class, that the individuals are felt as 
beautiful. In the judgment, accordingly, that we form of this beauty, 
we are uniformly guided by the circumstance of the expression. When, 
in any of these instances, we find an accumulation of forms, different 
from what we generally meet with, we feel a kind of disappointment, 
and however much the composition may exhibit of mere uniform and 
varied parts, we pass it by with some degree of indignation. When the 
discordant parts are few, we lament that accident should have introduced 
a variety which is so prejudicial, and we amuse ourselves with fancy- 
ing how beautiful the form would be, if these parts were omitted. 
It is only when we discover a general correspondence among the differ- 
ent parts to the whole of the character, and perceive the uniformity of 
this character maintained amidst all their varieties, that we are fully satis- 


Red with the beauty of form. The superiority of the productions of 
sculpture and painting to their originals in nature, altogether consists in 
the power which artists have to correct their accidental defects, in keep- 
ing out every circumstance which can interrupt the general expression of 
the subject or the form ; and in presenting, pure and unmixed, the 
character which we have associated with the objects in real nature. * * * * 
u 1 believe it will be found, that different proportions of uniformity and 
variety are required in forms of different characters ; and that the prin- 
ciple from which we determine the beauty of such proportion, is from its 
correspondence to the nature of the peculiar emotion which the form it- 
self is fitted to excite. Every one knows, that some emotions require a 
greater degree of uniformity, and others a greater degree of variety in 
their objects ; and perhaps, in general, all strong or powerful emotions, 
and all emotions which border upon pain, demand uniformity or same- 
ness ; and all weak emotions, and all emotions which belong to positive 
pleasure, demand variety or novelty in the objects of them. Upon this 
constitution of our nature the beauty of composition seems chiefly to de- 
pend ; and the judgment we form of this beauty appears in all cases to 
be determined by the correspondence of the different parts of the com- 
position in preserving or promoting the peculiar expression by which the 
object itself is distinguished. In the forms of ground, for instance, there 
is very obviously no certain proportion of uniformity and variety which 
is permanently beautiful. The same degree of uniformity which is 
pleasing in a scene of greatness or melancholy, would be disagreeable or 
dull in a scene of gaiety or splendour. The same degree of variety that 
would be beautiful in these, would be distressing in the others. By what 
rule, however, do we determine the different beauty of these proportions ? 
Not, surely, by the composition itself, else one determinate composition 
would be permanently beautiful ; but by the relation of this composition 
to the expression or character of the scene ; by its according with the 
demand and expectation of our minds ; and by its being suited to that 
particular state of attention or of fancy, which is produced by the emotion 
that the scene inspires. When this effect is accordingly produced, when 
the proportion either of uniformity or variety corresponds to the nature 
of this emotion, we conclude that the composition is good. When this 
proportion is violated, when there is more uniformity of expression 
than we choose to dwell upon, or more variety than we can follow with- 
out distraction, we conclude that the composition is defective, and speak 
of it as either dull or confused. Whatever may be the number of dis- 
tinct characters which the forms of ground possess, there is an equal 
number of different proportions required in the composition of them ; 



and so strong is this natural determination of the beauty of composition, 
that, after admiring the composition of one scene, we very often, in a few 
minutes afterwards, find equal beauty in a composition of a totally dif- 
ferent kind, when it distinguishes a scene of an opposite character." 

In following up this part of his subject, Mr. Alison quotes Mr. Wheat- 
ley, who, when treating of ground in his work upon gardening, says, that, 
— " The style of every part must be accommodated to the character of 
the whole; for every piece of ground is distinguished by certain pro- 
perties ; it is either tame or bold — gentle or rude — continued or broken ; 
and if any variety inconsistent with these properties be obtruded, it has 
no other effect than to weaken one idea, without raising another. The in- 
sipidity of a fiat, is not taken away by the introduction of a few scattered 
hillocks; a continuation of uneven ground can alone give the idea of 
inequality. A large deep abrupt break among easy swells and falls, 
seems at best but a piece left unfinished, and which ought to have been 
softened ; it is not more natural because it is more rude. On the other 
hand, a small, fine, polished form, in the midst of rough misshapen ground, 
though more elegant than all about it, is generally no better than a 
patch, itself disgraced, and disfiguring the scene. A thousand instances 
might be added, to show that the prevailing idea ought to pervade 
every part, so far at least indispensably, as to exclude whatever distracts 
it ; and as much farther as possible, to accommodate the character of 
the ground to the character of the scene it belongs to." The same prin - 
ciple extends to the proportion, and to the number of the parts. " Ground 
is seldom beautiful or natural without variety, or even without contrast ; 
and the precautions which have been given, extend no farther than to 
prevent variety from degenerating into inconsistency, and contrast into 
contradiction. Within the extremes nature supplies an inexhaustible 
fund ; and variety thus limited, so far from destroying, improves the 
general effect. Each distinguished part makes a separate impression, 
and all bearing the same stamp, all concurring towards the. same end, 
every one is an additional support to the prevailing idea. An accurate 
observer will see in every form several circumstances by which it is dis- 
tinguished from every other. If the scene be mild and quiet, he will 
place together those that do not differ widely, and he will gradually 
depart from the similitude. In ruder scenes the succession will be less 
regular, and the transitions more sudden. The character of the place 
in ust determine the degree of difference between contiguous forms. 
An assemblage of the most elegant forms, in the happiest situations, is to a 
degree indiscriminate, if they have not been selected and arranged with 
a design to produce certain expressions ; an heir of magnificence — or of 



simplicity — of cheerfulness— of tranquillity, — or some other general cha- 
racter ought to pervade the whole ; and ohjccts however pleasing in them- 
selves, if they contradict that character, should therefore be excluded ; 
those which are only indifferent must sometimes make room for such 
as are more significant ; many will often be introduced for no other 
merit than their expression ; and some which are in general rather 
disagreeable, may occasionally be recommended by it. Barrenness itself 
may be an acceptable circumstance in a spot dedicated to solitude 
and melancholy." The great secret of good Landscape Gardening, 
seems thus to consist in the accurate preservation of the character of 
every scene, whether that character be originally there, or created in it. 

The same observations which are applicable to landscape in general, 
will be found to apply to the different classes of trees, as well as to the 
individuals of the several species. " All these individuals," says Mr. 
Alison, " are not beautiful, and wherever they appear as beautiful, it 
is when their forms adhere perfectly to their character; when no 
greater degree either of uniformity or variety is assumed than suits that 
peculiar emotion, which their expression excites in our minds. An oak 
which wreaths not into vigorous or fantastic branches — a yew which 
grows into thin or varied forms — a plane tree or a horse-chestnut, which 
assumes not a deep and almost solid mass of foliage, &c, appear to us as 
imperfect and deformed productions. They seem to aim at an expres- 
sion which they do not reach, and we speak of them accordingly, as 
wanting the beauty, because they want the character of their class." 

There is no one determinate proportion of uniformity and variety, then, 
which invariably constitutes beauty. There are, in fact, as many varieties 
of beautiful compositions, as there are varieties of character, and the 
beauty is constituted by the correspondence of the composition to the 
character. The vase, for example, may be either magnificent, elegant, 
simple, gay, or melancholy. In all these cases the composition is differ- 
ent. A greater proportion of uniformity distinguishes it when destined 
to the expression of magnificence, simplicity or melancholy; and a 
greater proportion of variety, when the expression of elegance or gaiety 
is sought for. There is a propriety and a beauty in this difference of 
composition, according to the peculiar character which the form is des- 
tined to have. But if the vase on a tomb has all the varieties of the 
goblet, or the latter all the uniformity of the funeral urn, the composition 
is unfitted to the expression which the object is intended to have. In 
the orders of architecture the Tuscan is distinguished by its severity — 
the Doric by its massive simplicity — the Ionic by its elegance — the Corin- 
thian and Composite by their lightness, gaiety, and richness. To these 



characters their several ornaments are adapted with consummate taste. 
" Change these ornaments," says Mr. Alison, " give to the Tuscan the 
Corinthian capital, or to the Corinthian the Tuscan, and every person 
would feel not only disappointment from this unexpected composition, 
but a sentiment also of impropriety from the appropriation of a grave or 
sober ornament to a subject of splendour, and of a rich and gaudy orna- 
ment to a subject of severity." 

Forms have a relative beauty from their being the subjects of art, or 
produced by wisdom or design for some end. Whatever is the effect of 
art, naturally leads us to the consideration of that art which is its cause, 
and of that end or purpose for which it was produced. The discovery 
of skill or wisdom in the one, or of usefulness or propriety in the other, 
makes us conscious of a very pleasing emotion, and the forms which 
experience has taught us are associated with such qualities, become natu- 
rally and necessarily expressive of them, and affect us with the emotions 
which properly belong to the qualities they signify. Design, fitness, and 
utility, may be considered as the three great causes of the relative beauty 
of forms, and in many cases this beauty arises from all these expressions 
together. The beauty of design in a poem, in a painting, in a musical 
composition, or in a machine, is perpetually sought for, and admired 
when found. Design is inferred from fitness or utility ; for they are to 
us signs of the design or thought which produced them. Yet we often 
perceive design in forms both in art and nature, where we can discover 
no fitness or utility, and in such cases, we must look for that material 
quality, which is most naturally and most powerfully expressive to us 
of design, that is uniformity or regularity. This view seems to account 
for the circumstance, of the universal prevalence of uniformity in the 
earliest periods of the arts. It was natural, that in the infancy of society 
when art was first cultivated, and the attention of mankind was first 
directed to works of design, that such forms would be selected for 
those arts which were intended to please, as were capable of most strongly 
expressing the design or skill of the artist. What the spectator would 
then most admire, in the arts of sculpture and painting, where they 
imitated the human form, would be the invention or art which pro- 
duced the resemblance to man, whilst the study of the artist would 
naturally be, to make his work as expressive of this skill as possible. 
The surest mode of effecting this would be by uniformity, and by making 
use of an attitude, in which both sides of the body were perfectly similar 
in form, position, and drapery. The Egyptian, and even the earlier 
period of the Grecian art of sculpture, was distinguished by the 
same character, all the parts being subjected to the highest degree of 



finishing and polish. The history of painting, too, shows that the first 
periods of this art were distinguished by the same character. Mr. 
Alison says, that " the art of gardening seems to have been governed, 
and long governed, by the same principle. When men first began to 
consider a garden as a subject capable of beauty, or of bestowing 
any distinction on its possessor, it was natural that they should render 
its form as different as possible from that of the country around it ; and 
to mark to the spectator as strongly as they could, both the design, 
and the labour they had bestowed upon it. Irregular forms, however 
convenient or agreeable, might still be the production of nature. But 
forms perfectly regular, and divisions completely uniform, immediately 
excited the belief of design, and with this belief, all the admiration 
which follows the employment of skill, or even of expense. That 
this principle would naturally lead the first artists in gardening to 
the production of uniformity, may easily be conceived, as even at 
present, when so different a system of gardening prevails, the com- 
mon people universally follow the first system. ******* 
As gardens, however, are both a costly and permanent subject, and 
are consequently less liable to the influence of fashion, this taste would 
not easily be altered, and the principal improvements which they would 
receive, would consist rather in the greater employment of uniformity 
and expense, than in the introduction of any new design. The whole 
history of antiquity, accordingly, contains not, I believe, a single instance 
w here this character was deviated from in a spot considered solely as a 
garden ; and till within this century, and in this country, it seems not 
anywhere to have been imagined that a garden was capable of any other 
beauty than what might arise from utility, and from the display of art 
and design. It deserves, also, farther to be remarked, that the addi- 
tional ornaments of gardening have in every country partaken of the 
same character, and have been directed to the purpose of increasing the 
appearance and the beauty of design. Hence jets d'eau, artificial 
fountains, regular cascades, trees in the form of animals, &c., have in all 
countries been the principal ornaments of gardening. The violation of 
the usual appearances of nature in such objects, strongly exhibited the 
employment of art. They accorded perfectly, therefore, with the charac- 
ter which the scene was intended to have ; and they increased its beauty 
as they increased the effect of that quality upon which this beauty was 

The same principle very probably caused the invention of rhyme and 
measure in poetry, and may also account for the precedence which poetry 
has so long enjoyed over prosaic composition. To show design in his 



laws, even the lawgiver was compelled to promulgate them in rhyme, 
as, for the same reason, the sage used it for the promulgation of his 
aphorisms. The invention of writing, which in itself sufficiently proved 
design, produced a revolution in composition, though the permanence of 
poetical models, and the real difficulty of the art of poetry itself, still 
gives to it a very high value in this respect. But when painters and 
sculptors had so far advanced in their several arts as to render pre- 
eminence in either impossible, whilst uniformity was adhered to, they 
began to deviate from it, and to imitate the most beautiful attitudes of 
the human form. And then perceiving the influence which the passions 
and affections had upon it, they sought to imitate such attitudes and ex- 
pressions as were the signs of them ; and finding the forms of real life 
frequently deficient, they gradually sought for and found out ideal beauty. 
Thus was uniformity naturally deserted, and the variety of real life in- 
troduced, and the admiration of the spectator kept pace with its intro- 
duction, hecause, besides the additional pleasure he received from the 
expression of these forms, that of the design, and skill, and dexterity of 
the artist, was greater than before. This would naturally take place 
with the other arts, and as the love of uniformity distinguished the 
earlier periods of society, so that of variety would come to distinguish 
the periods of cultivation and refinement. We may therefore assert, in 
the words of Mr. Alison, that " wherever in the arts of any country 
variety is found to predominate, it may be safely inferred that they have 
long been cultivated in that country ; as, on the other hand, wherever 
the love of uniformity prevails, it may with equal safety be inferred that 
they are in that country but in the first stage of their improvement." 

Mr. Alison's views of the causes of the tardy improvement of the art 
of gardening, are curious and ingenious ; I therefore give them in his own 
words : — " There is one art, however, in which the same effect seems 
to have arisen from very different causes. The variety which distin- 
guishes the modern art of gardening in this island, beautiful as it un- 
doubtedly is, appears not to be equally natural to this ait as it has been 
shown to be to others. It is at least of a very late origin — it is to be 
found in no other country — and those nations of antiquity who had car- 
ried the arts of taste to the greatest perfection which they have ever yet 
attained, while they had arrived at beauty in every other species of 
form, seem never to have imagined that the principle of variety was ap- 
plicable to gardening, or to have deviated in any respect from the regu- 
larity or uniformity of their ancestors. Nor does it indeed seem to be 
cither a very natural or a very obvious invention. A garden is a spot 
surrounding or contiguous to a house, and cultivated for the convenience 


or pleasure of the family. When men first began to ornament such a 
spot, it was natural that they should do with it as they did with the house 
to which it was subordinate, viz., by giving it every possible appearance 
of uniformity, to show that they had bestowed labour and expense on 
the improvement of it. In the countries that were most proper for 
gardening! in those distinguished by a fine climate and beautiful scenery, 
this labour and expense could in fact be expressed in no other way than 
by the production of such uniformity. To imitate the beauty of nature 
in the small scale of a garden, would have been ridiculous in a country 
where this beauty was to be found upon the great scale of nature ; and 
for what purpose should they bestow labour or expense, for which every 
man expects credit, in creating a scene which, as it could be little supe- 
rior to the general scenery around them, could consequently but partially 
communicate to the spectator the belief of this labour or this expense 
having been bestowed ? The beauty of landscape, nature has sufficiently 
provided. The beauty, therefore, that was left for man to create, was 
the beauty of convenience or magnificence, both of them dependent on 
the employment of art and expense, and both of them best expressed by 
such forms as immediately signified the employment of such means. In 
such a situation, therefore, it does not seem natural that men should 
think of proceeding in this art beyond the first and earliest forms which 
it had acquired, or that any farther improvement should be attempted in 
it, than merely in the extension of the scale of this design." Mr. Alison 
then goes on to tell us, that in this view it is probable that the modern 
taste in gardening, or the art of creating landscape, may owe its origin 
to two circumstances, which may at first appear paradoxical, viz. to the 
accidental circumstance of our taste in natural beauty being founded 
upon foreign models, from early association with the Greek and Roman 
compositions, and from the effects of the influence of the great Italian 
masters ; and, secondly, to the difference or inferiority of the scenery of 
our own country to that which we were thus accustomed to admire. He 
then proceeds to say, that " it was very natural for the inhabitants of a 
country of which the scenery, however beautiful in itself, was yet, in 
many respects, very different from that which they were accustomed to 
consider as solely or supremely beautiful — to attempt to imitate what 
they did not possess — to impart, as it were, the beauties which were not 
of their own growth ; and, in fact, to create that scenery which nature 
and fortune had denied them. Such improvements, however, as ex- 
tremely expensive, could not be at first on a very large scale ; they 
would, for various reasons, occupy only that spot of ground which sur- 
rounded the house, and as they thus supplanted what had formerly been 



the garden, they came very naturally to be considered only as another 
species of gardening* A scene of so peculiar a kind could not well unite 
with the country around. It would gradually, therefore, extend so as 
to embrace all the ground that was within view, or in the possession of 
the improver. From the garden, therefore, it naturally extended to the 
park, which therefore also became the subject of this new improvement. 
* * * * The first attempts of this kind in England, were very far 
from being an imitation of the general scenery of nature. It was solely 
the imitation of Italian scenery — statues, temples, urns, ruins, colonnades, 
&c, were the first ornaments of all such scenes. Whatever distinguished 
the real scenes of nature in Italy, was here employed in artificial 
scenery with the most thoughtless profusion ; and the object of the art 
in general, was the creation, not of natural, but of Italian landscape. It 
was but a short step, however, from this state of the art to the pursuit 
of general beauty. The great step had already been made in the de- 
struction of the regular forms, which constituted the former system of 
gardening, and in the imitation of nature, which, though foreign and very 
different from the appearance or character of nature in our own countrv, 
was yet still the imitation of nature. The profusion with which temples, 
ruins, statues, and all the other adventitious articles of Italian scenery 
were lavished, became soon ridiculous. The destruction of these, it 
was found, did not destroy the beauty of landscape. The power of 
simple nature was felt and acknowledged ; and the removal of the articles 
of acquired expression, led men only more strongly to attend to the 
natural expression of scenery, and to study the means by which it might 
be maintained or improved. The publication also at this time of The 
Seasons of Thomson, in the opinion of Dr. Warton, a very competent 
judge, contributed in no small degree both to influence and direct the 
taste of men in this art. The peculiar merit of the work itself, the sin- 
gular felicity of its descriptions, and above all, the fine enthusiasm which 
it displays, and which it is so fitted to excite with regard to the works 
of nature, were most singularly adapted to promote the growth of an 
infant art, which had for its object the production of natural beauty ; and 
by diffusing everywhere both the admiration of nature, and the know- 
ledge of its expression, prepared, in a peculiar degree, the minds of men 
in general, both to feel the effects and to judge of the fidelity of those 
scenes in which it was imitated. By these means the art of gardening 
has gradually ascended from the pursuit of general beauty — to realize 
whatever the fancy of the painter has imagined, and to create a scenery 
more pure, more harmonious, and more expressive, than any that is to 
be found in nature itself." 

1 1 


As uniformity was the distinguishing form of beauty in the first periods 
of the various arts, variety is the distinguishing form in their later pe- 
riods. Uniformity and variety, then, in conjunction, are beautiful when 
correspondent to the character or expression of the subject; and again, 
when they are expressive of the skill or taste of the artist. It is in the 
power of the artist either to sacrifice the beauty of design to that of cha- 
racter or expression, or to sacrifice the beauty of character to that of 
design. The beauty of design produces less affecting emotions than the 
beauty of expression or character. It is fully felt only by proficients in 
the art, and whilst its duration depends upon the period of the art, the 
permanence of the beauty of expression and character rests upon certain 
invariable and indestructible principles of our nature. The expression 
of design, therefore, in the arts, should always be subordinate or subject 
to the expression of character. 

Fitness, or the proper adaptation of means to an end, is the great 
source of the relative beauty of forms. The greater part of the emotion 
of beauty which we feel in regarding furniture, machines, and instru- 
ments, has its origin in this cause. Even the most common and disre- 
garded articles of convenience are felt as beautiful, when we forget their 
familiarity, and consider them only in relation to the purposes they serve. 
A physician even tells us of a beautiful theory of dropsies or fevers — a 
surgeon of a beautiful instrument for operations — an anatomist of a beau- 
tiful subject or preparation ; — instances which show that even objects 
which arc disgusting in themselves, become beautiful when regarded only 
in the light of their usefulness or fitness. The beauty of proportion is 
also to be ascribed to this cause, that is, from certain proportions being 
expressive of the fitness of the parts to the end designed. The want of 
this gives us that dissatisfaction which we feel when means appear to be 
unfitted to their end. "In all the orders of architecture," to use Mr. 
Alison's words, " the fitness of the parts to the support of the particu- 
lar weight in the entablature, is apparent to every one, and constitutes 
an undoubted part of the pleasure we receive from them. In the 
Tuscan, where the entablature is heavier than the rest, the column 
and base are proportionably stronger. In the Corinthian, where the 
entablature is lightest, the column and base are proportionably slighter. 
In the Doric and Ionic, which are between these extremes, the forms 
of the column and base, are, in the same manner, proportioned to 
the reciprocal weights of their entablatures — being neither so strong 
as the one nor so slight as the other." To this we may add, that we 
have pleasure in looking at a justly proportioned peristyle of Doric, or 
other columns, very much because experience has taught us that such a 



quantity of such material, in such forms, is amply sufficient to give secu- 
rity to the superstructure. But let the same actual security be given by 
means of thin iron pillars, and although reason may convince us that it 
really is sufficient, our eyes have been so long accustomed to such pro- 
portions as ore required for the weaker materials of stone or marble, 
that any thing thinner appears deficient and disproportionate, and so 
offends the eye. A much longer experience of iron-supports, and a 
much greater familiarity with them will be required, before the eye be 
reconciled to the thinness of their proportions, and when the time does 
arrive when it shall be so, proportions in general will become variable 
in the estimation of different people. Utility, when evidently expressed, 
is sufficient to give beauty to forms of the most different and even oppo- 
site kinds. 

Forms have what may be termed their accidental beauty from asso- 
ciations not common to all, but peculiar to the individual. They take 
their rise from education — from peculiar habits of thought — from situa- 
tion — from profession ; and the beauty they produce is felt only by those 
whom similar causes have led to the formation of similar associations. 

Motion is in many cases productive of emotions of sublimity and 
beauty. The associations connected with it arise either from the nature 
of motion itself, or from the nature of the bodies moved, I a^ree with 
Mr. Alison, that motion which is sublime, is that which is expressive to 
us of the exertion of power ; but I cannot so readily concur with him in 
the proposition — " that there is no instance where motion, which is the 
apparent effect of force, is beautiful or sublime," for I apprehend that 
the flight of an arrow is beautiful, and that of a cannonball or of a 
blazing bombshell sublime. Rapid motion is sublime — slow motion in 
small bodies beautiful, though in great bodies it is sublime, as in the 
movement of a first-rate man-of-war — the ascent of a great balloon — 
the slow march of an immense embattled army — or the motion of stu- 
pendous clouds, to which I may add the slow, gradual, but terrific ad- 
vance of a stream of lava from a volcano — or the tardy yet certain 
descent of the side of a Swiss mountain on the cultivated and thicklv 
peopled valley below. 

Mr. Alison devotes a large portion of the latter part of his work to a 
consideration of the origin of the beauty or sublimity to be perceived in 
the countenance and form of man, as well as in his attitudes and ges- 
tures, all of which he treats with the same perspicuity of argument, and 
luxuriance of felicitous illustration, as the examples I have given so 
abundantly prove that his essays are replete with. But on this part of 
the subject I shall content myself with stating, that he proves very satis- 



factorilVj that it is in perfect harmony with the general theory of asso- 
ciation, and that the hcauty or sublimity of the human countenance or 
form does not arise from any original or essential beauty in either — that 
there is a negative species of beauty necessary to every beautiful form or 
face, but not constituting it, which arises from the expression of physical 
fitness or propriety — that the real and positive beauty of the form or face 
arises from its expression of some amiable or interesting character of 
mind, and that the degree of this beauty is proportionate to the degree 
in which this character is interesting or affecting to us ; — and, finally, 
that the beauty of composition in the human face and form arises, as in 
all other cases, from the unity of expression, and that the law by which 
we determine the beauty of their several members, is that of their cor- 
respondence to the peculiar nature of the characteristic expression. I 
dismiss this part of the subject so shortly, from no want of a due notion 
of its great importance to the general question, but because it does not 
bear so directly on the immediate object of this work. As it regards 
the doctrine of association, I am disposed to consider it so very essen- 
tial, that I believe that those emotions of beauty or sublimity which are 
excited in us by the other objects of the material world, inanimate as 
well as animate, are invariably produced by associations which all, in 
some way, originate in our early formed mental impressions of the 
varieties of human character, passions, and emotions. 

Mr. Alison sums up his work by stating, that u the illustrations he has 
offered in the course of his essay upon the origin of the sublimity and 
beauty of some of the principal qualities of matter, seem to afford evi- 
dence for the following conclusions : — I. That each of these qualities is 
either from nature, from experience, or from accident, the sign of some 
quality capable of producing emotion, or the exercise of some moral 
affection ; — and, II. That when these associations are dissolved, or, in 
other words, when the material qualities cease to be significant of the 
associated qualities, they cease also to produce the emotions either of 
sublimity or beauty. If these conclusions are admitted, it appears neces- 
sarily to follow, that the beauty and sublimity of such objects is to be 
ascribed, not to the material qualities themselves, but to the qualities they 
signify ; and, of consequence, that the qualities of matter are not to be 
considered as sublime or beautiful in themselves, but as being the signs 
or expressions of such qualities as, by the constitution of our nature, are 
fitted to produce pleasing or interesting emotion." In short, " that the 
beauty and sublimity which is felt in the various appearances of matter, 
are finally to be ascribed to their expression of mind, or to their being 
either directly or indirectly the signs of those qualities of mind, which 


are fitted by the constitution of our nature, to affect us with pleasing or 
interesting emotion." 

The view which Mr. Alison thus takes of the manner in which we 
are affected by the objects of the material world, will at once be per- 
ceived to be that which is most consonant to the goodness and wisdom 
of the beneficent Creator of the universe, who has thereby made provision 
for the general diffusion of human happiness, so far as it may depend on 
the pleasures of taste. Mr. Alison gives a beautiful and convincing ex- 
position of this in the following sentences. 

" If the emotions of taste, and all the happiness they give, are pro- 
duced by the perpetual expression of mind, the accommodation of this 
system to the happiness of human nature, is not only in itself simple, 
but it may be seen in the simplest instances. Wherever the appearances 
of the material world are expressive to us of qualities we love or admire ; 
wherever, from our education or connections, or habits, or our pursuits, 
its qualities are associated in our minds with affecting or interesting 
emotions, there the pleasures of beauty or sublimity are felt, or at least 
are capable of being felt. Our minds instead of being governed by the 
character of external objects, are enabled to bestow upon them a charac- 
ter which does not belong to them ; and even with the rudest, or the 
commonest appearances of nature, to connect feelings of a nobler or a 
more interesting kind, than any that the mere influences of matter can 
ever convey. It is hence that the inhabitant of savage and barbarous 
countries, clings to the rocks and the deserts in which he was nursed, 
so, that if the pursuit of fortune forces him into the regions of fertility 
and cultivation, he sees in them no memorials of early love, or of ancient 
independence ; and that he hastens to return to his rocks, and the 
deserts which spoke to his infant heart, amidst which he recognizes his 
first affections, and his genuine home. It is hence that in the coun- 
tenance of her dying infant, the eyes of the mother discover beauties 
which she feels not in those who require not her care, and that the 
bosom of the husband or friend glows with deeper affection when he 
marks the advances of age or disease, over those features which first 
awakened the emotions of love or of friendship. It is hence, in the 
same manner, that the eye of admiration turns involuntarily from the 
forms of those who possess only the advantages of physical beauty, or 
the beauty of fitness or proportion, to rest upon the humble or less 
favoured forms which are expressive of genius, of knowledge, or of 
virtue ; and that in the public assemblies of every country, the justice 
of national taste neglects all the external advantages of youth, of rank, 
or of grace, to bestow the warmth of its enthusiasm upon the mutilated 



form of the warrior who has extended its power, or the grey heirs of the 
statesman who lias maintained its liberty. ******** 

" It is by means of this constitution of our nature, that the emotions of 
taste are blended with moral sentiments, and that one of the greatest 
pleasures of which we arc susceptible, is made finally subservient to 
moral improvement. If the beauty of the material world were altogether 
independent of expression ; if any original law had imperiously pre- 
scribed the objects in which the eye and the ear could alone find delight, 
the pleasures of taste must have been independent of all moral emotion, 
and the qualities of beauty and sublimity would have been as distinct 
from moral sensibility as those of number or of figure. The scenery of 
nature would have produced only an organic pleasure, which would have 
expired with the moment in which it was felt ; and the compositions of 
the artist, instead of awakening all the enthusiasm of fancy and of feeling, 
must have been limited to excite only the cold approbation of faithful 
outline, and accurate detail. No secret analogies, no silent expressions, 
would then have connected enjoyment witb improvement ; and in con- 
tradiction to every other appearance of human nature, an important 
source of pleasure would have been bestowed without any relation to 
the individual, or the social advantage of the human race. In the system 
which is established, on the contrary — in that system which makes matter 
sublime or beautiful, only as it is significant of mind — we perceive the 
lofty end which is pursued ; and that pleasure is here, as in every other 
case, made instrumental to the moral purposes of our being. While the 
objects of the material world are made to attract our infant eyes, there 
are latent ties by which they reach our hearts ; and wherever they afford 
us delight, they are always the signs or expressions of higher qualities, 
by which our moral sensibilities are called forth. It may not be our 
fortune perhaps to be born amid its nobler scenes. But wander where 
we will, trees wave, rivers flow, mountains ascend, clouds darken, or 
winds animate the face of heaven ; and over the whole scenery the Sun 
sheds the cheerfulness of his morning, the splendour of his noonday, or 
the tenderness of his evening light. There is not one of these features 
of scenery which is not fitted to awaken us to moral emotion ; to lead 
us, when once the key of our imagination is struck, to trains of fas- 
cinating and of endless imagery; and in the indulgence of these, to 
make our bosoms either glow with conceptions of mental excellence, or 
melt in the dreams of moral good. Even upon the man of the most 
uncultivated taste the scenes of nature have some inexplicab.e charm. 
There is not a chord perhaps of the human heart which may not be 
awakened by their influence ; and I believe there is no man of genuine 



taste,, who has not often felt, in the lone majesty of nature, some unseen 
spirit to dwell, which, in his happier hours, touched as if with magic 
hand, all the springs of his moral sensibility, and rekindled in his heart 
those origina conceptions of the moral or intellectual excellence of his 
nature, which it is the melancholy tendency of the vulgar pursuits of life 
to diminish, if not altogether to destroy. ******** 

" There is yet, however, a greater expression which the appearances of 
the material world are fitted to convey, and a more important influence, 
which, in the design of nature, they are destined to produce upon us — 
their influence in leading us to religious sentiment. — Had organic enjoy- 
ment been the only object of our formation, it would have been sufficient 
to have established senses for the reception of these enjoyments. But 
if the promises of our nature are greater ; — if it is destined to a nobler 
conclusion ; — if it is enabled to look to the Author of Being himself, and 
to feel its proud relation to Him ; then nature, in all its aspects around 
us, ought only to be felt as signs of his providence, and as conducting 
us, by the universal language of these signs, to the throne of the Deity." 

Having now, I hope, succeeded in giving a somewhat satisfactory digest 
of the arguments and examples by which Mr. Alison supports this theory 
of association, together with a very liberal production of quotation from 
those more beautiful or striking passages in his work, by which, in his 
own person as a writer, he so happily illustrates the doctrines which 
he teaches ; it may not be out of place to remark, that the acute per- 
ceptive powers of the poetical mind of Burns, were immediatelv unfolded 
for the reception of this theory, the moment it was presented to him. — 
Professor Dugald Stewart, thus notices this fact. — " The last time I saw 
Burns was during the winter 1788-89, or 1789-90, when he passed an 
evening with me at Drumsheugh, in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, 
where I was then living." My friend Mr. Alison was the only other 
person in company. I never saw him more agreeable or interesting. 
A present which Mr. Alison sent him afterwards of his Essays on Taste, 
drew from Burns a letter of acknowledgment, which I remember to 
have read, with some degree of surprise at the distinct conception he 
appeared from it to have formed of the general principles of the doctrine 
of association." — I cannot say that I at all participate in the surprise 
which Professor Stewart here expresses, for I think the highly imagina- 
tive mind of Burns, was of all others the most likely to catch immediate 

' Then in the neighbourhood of the city, hut now altogether absorbed within it by 
its great extension. 




illumination from the first flash of the light of the truth of this theory. 
The letter is as follows. — 

"Ellisland, near Dumfries, \Uh February 1791. 

"Sir, — You must, by this time, have set me down as one of the most 
ungrateful of men. You did me the honour to present me with a book 
which does honour to science and the intellectual powers of man, and 
I have not even so much as acknowledged the receipt of it. The 
fact is, you yourself are to blame for it. Flattered as I was by your 
telling me that you wished to have my opinion of the work, the 
old spiritual enemy of mankind, who knows well that vanity is one 
of the sins that most easily beset me, put it into my head to ponder 
over the performance with the look-out of a critic ; and to draw up, 
forsooth, a deep-learned digest of strictures on a composition of which, 
in fact, until I read the book, I did not even know the first principles. 
I own, Sir, that, at first glance, several of your propositions startled me 
as paradoxical. That the martial clangour of a trumpet had something in 
it vastly more grand, heroic, and sublime, than the twingle-twangle of a 
Jew's harp ; that the delicate flexure of a rose-twig, when the half-blown 
flower is heavy with the tears of the dawn, was infinitely more beautiful 
and elegant than the upright stub of a burdock ; and that from something 
innate and independent of all association of ideas : — these I had set down 
as irrefragable, orthodox truths, until perusing your book shook my faith. 
In short, Sir, except Euclid's Elements of Geometry — which I made a 
shift to unravel by my father's fireside, in the winter evenings of the first 
season I held the plough — I never read a book which gave me such a 
quantum of information, and added so much to my stock of ideas, as 
your * Essays on the Principles of Taste.' One thing you must forgive 
my mentioning as an uncommon merit in the work, — I mean the lan- 
guage. To clothe abstract philosophy in elegance of style, sounds some- 
thing like a contradiction in terms ; but you have convinced me that 
they are quite compatible. — I am, Sir, &c. Robert Burns." 

I am now desirous of adding to the other authorities I have adduced 
in support of the associative theory of taste, the powerful testimony of 
Professor Wilson, whose opinion, whether we consider it as coming 
from him as a poet or as a philosopher, must, on such a subject as this, be 
universally regarded as of the greatest weight, and in the highest degree 
valuable. I quote the following from an article of his in the number of 
Blackwood's Magazine for January 1 839, and the reader will find from 
it that the Professor, whilst he coincides with Lord Jeffrey in denying 
the necessity of Mr. Alison's trains of thought, fully subscribes to the 
truth of the doctrine of association. 



n It is the theory of Mr. Alison, tliat all beauty and sublimity in ex- 
ternal nature are but the reflections of mental qualities, and that the 
pleasures of the imagination consist of those emotions which arise in us 
during our association of mental qualities with lifeless things. This 
theory — so beautifully illustrated by Mr. Alison — is certainly in a great 
measure true ; and therefore almost every word we use, and every feel- 
ing which we express, is a proof of the discernment by the mind in a 
state of imagination, of analogies subsisting between the objects of the 
external world and the attributes of our moral and intellectual being. 

" We said that Mr. Alison's theory is in a great measure true. The 
principle is true ; but we suspect that there is something fallacious in 
its application. There is a popular opinion, or rather an unconsidered 
impression, that sights and sounds are beautiful and sublime in themselves, 
but this disappears before examination. A sound is or is not sublime, 
as it is or is not apprehended to be thunder. That is association. But 
thunder itself would not be sublime, if there were no more than the in- 
tellectual knowledge of its physical cause, — if there were not ideas of 
power, wrath, death, included in it. The union of these ideas with 
thunder is association. These ideas, by association, carry their own 
ideas with them. All fixed conjunction, therefore, of ideas with ideas, 
and of feelings with ideas, is the work of association, — nor is it possible 
to dispute it. But when the advocates of this theory assert, that trains of 
thought, or distinct personal recollections, are absolutely necessary to make 
up the emotion ; then they assert what appears to us to be contradicted 
by the experience of every man. The impression is collective and im- 
mediate. We know that all our acquired perceptions are at first gained 
by long processes of association — that the eye does not of itself see form 
or figure. When, therefore, we see a rose to be a rose, it may as well 
be said that we do so by a process of association, as that we see it to be 
beautiful by a process of association. In both cases the perception of 
the rose, and the emotion of its beauty is equally instantaneous, and in- 
dependent of any process of association, though we know that both our 
perception of it and our emotion, could only have been formed originally 
by such a process. As, therefore, we cannot be said, by our instructed 
senses, to perform any mental operation when we see an object to be 
round, so neither can we be said to perform any, when we feel an object 
to be beautiful. Voluntary associations, may, doubtless, be added to 
our unreasoned and unwilled perception of beauty, as of a rose, or a 
human countenance — and these trains of thought, of which Mr. Alison 
so finely speaks, will add to the emotion. But the emotion arises inde- 
pendently of them. We admire the beauty of a rose just as thoughtlessly 



as we see it to have a Blender stalk, circular flower, and serrated leaves. 
While, therefore, we admit the truth of* the principle of Mr. Alison's 
theory, we seek to limit the application of it." 

There are some remarks with which Lord Jeffrey terminates his 
article on Beauty in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which I think so 
highly essential, that I am led to quote them at length. They refer to 
the necessary consequences of the adoption of this theory, upon other 
controversies of a kindred description. 

" In the first place, then/' says his Lordship, " we conceive that it 
estahlishcs the substantial identity of the sublime, the beautiful, and the 
picturesque, and, consequently, puts an end to all controversy that is not 
purelv verbal as to the difference of those several qualities. Every 
material ohject that interests without actually hurting or gratifying our 
bodily feelings, must do so, according to this theory, in one and the same 
manner — that is, by suggesting or recalling some emotion or affection of 
ourselves, or some other sentient being, and presenting, to our imagina- 
tion at least, some natural object of love, pity, admiration, or awe. The 
interest of material objects, therefore, is always the same, and arises, in 
every case, not from any physical qualities they may possess, but from 
their association with some idea of emotion. But, though material 
objects have but one means of exciting emotion, the emotions they do 
excite are infinite. They are mirrors that may reflect all shades and all 
colours, and, in point of fact, do seldom reflect the same hues twice. 
No two interesting objects, perhaps, whether known by the name of 
beautiful, sublime, or picturesque, ever produced exactly the same emo- 
tion in the beholder; and no one object, it is most probable, ever moved 
any two persons to the very same conceptions. As they may be asso- 
ciated with all the feelings and affections of which the human mind is 
susceptible, so they may suggest those feelings in all their variety ; and, in 
fact, do daily excite all sorts of emotions, running through every gradation, 
from extreme gaiety and elevation, to the borders of horror and disgust. 

<f Now it is certainly true, that all the variety of emotions raised in this 
way, on the single basis of association, may be classed in a rude way 
under the denominations of sublime, beautiful, and picturesque, accord- 
ing as they partake of awe, tenderness, or admiration ; and we have no 
other objection to this nomenclature, except its extreme imperfection, 
and the delusions to which we know it has given occasion. If objects 
that interest by their association with ideas of power, and danger, and 
terror, are to be distinguished by the peculiar name of sublime, why 
should there not be a separate name also for objects that interest by 
associations of mirth and gaiety — another for those that please by sug- 



gestions of softness and melancholy — another for such as are connected 
with impressions of comfort and tranquillity — and another for those that 
are related to pity, and admiration, and love, and regret, and all the 
other distinct emotions and affections of our nature ? These are not in 
reality less distinguishable from each other than from the emotions of 
awe and veneration that confer the title of sublime on their representa- 
tives ; and while all the former are confounded under the comprehen- 
sive appellation of beauty, this partial attempt at distinction is only apt 
to mislead us into an erroneous opinion of our accuracy, and to make us 
believe both that there is a greater conformity among the things that 
pass under the same name, and a greater difference between those that 
pass under different names, than is really the case. We have seen 
already that the radical error of almost all preceding inquirers, has lain 
in supposing that every thing that passed under the name of beautiful 
must have some real and inherent quality in common with every thing 
else that obtained that name. And it is scarcely necessary for us to 
observe, that it has been almost as general an opinion, that sublimity 
was not only something radically different from beauty, but actually 
opposite to it ; whereas the fact is, that it is far more related to some 
sorts of beauty than many sorts of beauty are to each other; and that 
both are founded exactly upon the same principle of suggesting some 
past or possible emotion of some sentient being. 

" Upon this important point, we are happy to find our opinions con- 
firmed by the authority of Mr. Stewart, who, in his Essay on the Beau- 
tiful, has observed, not only that there appears to him to be no incon- 
sistency or impropriety in such expressions as the sublime beauties of 
nature, or of the sacred scriptures ; but has added, in express terms, 
that " to oppose the beautiful to the sublime, or to the picturesque, 
strikes him as something analogous to a contrast between the beautiful 
and the comic — the beautiful and the tragic — the beautiful and the 
pathetic — or the beautiful and the romantic. 

" The only other advantage which we shall specify as likely to result 
from the general adoption of the theory we have been endeavouring to 
illustrate, is, that it seems calculated to put an end to all these perplex- 
ing and vexatious questions about the standard of taste, which have 
given occasion to so much impertinent and so much elaborate discussion. 
If things are not beautiful in themselves, but only as they serve to sug- 
gest interesting conceptions to the mind, then every thing which does, in 
point of fact, suggest such a conception to any individual, is beautiful to 
that individual ; and it is not only quite true that there is no room for 
disputing about tastes, but that all tastes are equally just and correct, in 


cu far as each in lividual speaks only of his own emotions. When a 
man calls a thing beautiful, however, he may indeed mean to make two 
rery different -assertions; — he may mean that it gives him pleasure by- 
suggesting to him some interesting emotion ; and, in this sense, there 
can be no doubt that, if he merely speak truth, the thing is beautiful, 
and that it pleases him precisely in the same way that all other things 
please those to whom they appear beautiful. But if he mean further to 
Bay, that the thing possesses some quality which should make it appear 
beautiful to every other person, and that it is owing to some prejudice 
or defect in them if it appear otherwise, then he is as unreasonable and 
absurd as he would think those who should attempt to convince him 
that he felt no emotion of beauty. 

" All tastes, then, are equally just and true, in as far as concerns the 
individual whose taste is in question; and what a man feels distinctly 
to be beautiful, is beautiful to him, whatever other people may think of it. 
All this follows clearly from the theory now in question : but it does not 
follow from it that all tastes are equally good or desirable, or that there 
is any difficulty in describing that which is really the best, and the most 
to be envied. The only use of the faculty of taste is to afford an inno- 
cent delight, and to aid the cultivation of a liner morality; and that 
man will certainly have the most delight from this faculty who has the 
most numerous and the most powerful perceptions of beauty. But if 
beauty consist in the reflection of our affections and sympathies, it is 
plain that he will always see the most beauty whose affections are 
warmest and most exercised, whose imagination is the most power- 
ful, and who has most accustomed himself to attend to the objects by 
which he is surrounded. In as far as mere feeling and enjoyment are 
concerned, therefore, it seems evident that the best taste must be that 
which belongs to the best affections, the most active fancy, and the 
most attentive habits of observation. It will follow pretty exactly, too, 
that all men's perceptions of beauty will be nearly in proportion to the 
degree of their sensibility and social sympathies ; and that those who 
have no affections towards sentient beings, will be just as insensible to 
beauty in external objects, as he who cannot hear the sound of his 
friend's voice must be deaf to its echo. 

" In so far as the sense of beauty is regarded as a mere source of en- 
joyment, this seems to be the only distinction that deserves to be at- 
tended to ; and the only cultivation that taste should ever receive, with 
a view to the gratification of the individual, should be through the in- 
direct channel of cultivating the affections and powers of observation. 
If we aspire, however, to be creators as well as observers of beauty, 



and place any part of our happiness in ministering to the gratification of 
others — as artists, or poets, or authors of any sort — then, indeed, a new 
distinction of tastes, and a far more laborious system of cultivation will 
be necessary. A man who pursues only his own delight will be as 
much charmed with objects that suggest powerful emotions, in conse- 
quence of personal and accidental associations, as with those that intro- 
duce similar emotions, by means of associations that are universal and 
indestructible. To him, all objects of the former class are really as 
beautiful as those of the latter — and, for his own gratification, the 
creation of that sort of beauty is just as important an occupation ; but 
if he conceive the ambition of creating beauties for the admiration of 
others, he must be cautious to employ only such objects as are the 
natural signs, or the inseparable concomitants of emotions, of which 
the greater part of mankind are susceptible ; and his taste will then 
deserve to be called bad and false, if he obtrude upon the public, as 
beautiful, objects that are not likely to be associated in common minds 
with any interesting impressions. 

" For a man himself, then, there is no taste that is either bad or false; 
and the only difference worthy of being attended to, is that between a 
great deal and a very little. Some who have cold affections — sluggish 
imaginations, and no habits of observation, can with difficulty discern 
beauty in anything ; while others, who are full of kindness and sensi- 
bility, and who have been accustomed to attend to all the objects around 
them, feel it almost in everything. It is no matter what other people 
may think of the objects of their admiration ; nor ought it to be any 
concern of theirs, that the public would be astonished or offended if 
they were called upon to join in that admiration. As long as no such 
call is made, this anticipated discrepancy of -feeling need give them no 
uneasiness ; and the suspicion of it should produce no contempt in any 
other person. It is a strange aberration, indeed, of vanity, that makes 
us despise persons for being happy — for having sources of enjoyment in 
which we cannot share ; and yet this is the true account of the ridicule 
which is so generally poured upon individuals who seek only to enjoy 
their peculiar tastes unmolested ; for, if there be any truth in the theory 
we have been expounding, no taste is bad for any other reason than 
because it is peculiar, as the objects in which it delights must actually 
serve to suggest to the individual those common emotions and universal 
affections upon which the sense of beauty is everywhere founded. The 
misfortune is, however, that we are apt to consider all persons who 
make known their peculiar relishes, and especially all who create any 
objects for their gratification, as in some measure dictating to the public. 


and setting op an idol for general adoration ; and hence this intolerant 
interference with almost all peculiar perceptions of beauty, and the un- 
sparing derision that pursues all deviations from acknowledged standards. 
This intolerance, we admit, is often provoked by something of a spirit of 
proseh/tism and arrogance, in those who mistake their own casual asso- 
ciations for natural or universal relations ; and the consequence is, that 
mortified vanity dries up the fountain of their peculiar enjoyment, and 
disenchants, by a new association of general contempt or ridicule, the 
scenes that had been consecrated by some innocent but accidental 

" As all men must have some peculiar associations, all men must have 
some peculiar notions of beauty, and, of course, to a certain extent, a 
taste that the public would be entitled to consider as false or vitiated. 
For those who make no demands on public admiration, however, it is 
hard to be obliged to sacrifice this source of enjoyment; and even for 
those who labour for applause, the wisest course, perhaps, if it were 
only practicable, would be to have two tastes — one to enjoy, and one to 
work by — one founded upon universal associations, according to which 
they finished those performances for which they challenged universal 
praise, and another guided by all casual and individual associations, 
through which they looked fondly upon nature, and upon the objects 
of their secret admiration." 

I have now endeavoured to present to the reader an ample analysis 
of the opinions of those who have written most correctly — with the 
most philosophical views — and who, from the great authority of their 
names, are most worthy of being listened to on this highly interesting 
subject, the Origin of Taste. From their united judgment it seems now 
to be established, that there really are no intrinsic or inherent qualities 
of sublimity or beauty actually existing in the objects of material creation, 
but that the emotions of sublimity or beauty which we experience whilst 
regarding them, are immediately excited in us by the material qualities 
of those objects being associated in our minds with the mental qualities 
— the virtues, the vices, the passions, the happiness, or the misery of 
man — for it is man and his concerns alone that can rouse us to yield 
that degree of interest which is capable of sympathetically awakening- 
human feelings. The associations so formed may be either certain or 
accidental, general or particular, permanent or temporary. The material 
object is, as it were, but the mirror that reflects the emotions which 
have been instantaneously awakened by association in our own bosoms. 
But this development of the mode by which the human mind is affected 
with emotions of sublimity or beauty by the objects of the material 



world, by no means does away with the necessity of the cultivation of 
the art of selecting, of creating, or of combining objects, for the purpose 
of giving delight to man. For, as that individual will certainlv have 
the most delight from the contemplation of the works of nature or of 
art who has the most numerous and the most powerful associative per- 
ceptions of Beauty, so it is evident that those objects which are capable of 
exciting the widest range of association throughout the entire mass of the 
human race, will always be the most generally pleasing and acceptable to 
mankind, whilst those objects which are most capable of touching respon- 
sive chords of general association among the educated portion of man- 
kind, must necessarily be most generally acceptable to all who belong to 
this more cultivated cast. He, therefore, who has the taste and the 
discernment to discover these, to classify and to combine them, and to 
point out how they may be so placed before us — so classed and so 
combined — as to afford the greatest quantum of pleasure to persons of 
such refinement who may contemplate them, must necessarily deserve 
the attention as well as the thanks of those for whose delight he labours. 
Sir Uvedale Price has conferred this boon upon us in a very high degree 
by his Observations on Landscape Gardening, in which the acuteness of 
his perception, the nicety of his discrimination, and the highly cultivated 
delicacy of his taste, have enabled him to give the happiest selection of 
the liveliest and most pleasing pictures, illustrative of all that this fas- 
cinating art ought truly to be ; and it is impossible to doubt, that the 
more general perusal of such a work by those who are blessed with the 
possession of parts of the surface of our native soil upon which they 
may work their will, and who have also the means of improving them, 
must ultimately tend greatly to spread and to enrich that beauty for 
which the face of this happy country of ours is already so generally 
celebrated. For, rich as these happy islands of ours are in natural scenery, 
and much as has been done within them by the hand of man to aid and 
embellish nature, no one possessed of good taste in landscape gardening 
can travel throughout the length and breadth of our land, without being 
satisfied that much yet remains to be done, and, perhaps, not a little to 
be undone. Let me, then, earnestly call upon all such highly privileged 
individuals as have landed estates, and sufficient means to enable them 
to embellish them, to bear in mind, that amongst the many duties which 
in reason and justice appear to be entailed upon them by the very cir- 
cumstance of their being the lords of a portion of their native soil, that 
of their obligation to contribute to the general improvement of the face 
of the country is not to be neglected. And, as this can be effected 
solely by the exertions of individuals, each in his own particular sphere, 


every landed proprietor is bound, as fur as his subject will admit of it, 
or bis means allow him, to do all in bis power to bestow upon bis pos- 
session, whether it be small, or whether it be great, the fullest enrich- 
ment of which good taste would pronounce that its features may be 
capable. He can have little feeling for bis country who does not admit 
the truth as well as the importance of this view of the matter, in which 
no account is taken of that exquisite self-gratification which every one 
devoted to the practical pursuits of landscape gardening must reap from 
this most delightful, as well as most innocent and rational of all rural 
employments — a self-gratification, be it remembered, which cannot be 
indulged in without producing effects that must give the widest pleasure 
to all the rest of mankind who may have an opportunity of looking upon 
them, not only in our own time, but for generations to come. Indeed, 
it is natural for every Briton to feel a sort of national, if not an 
individual appropriation, in all the finest and most remarkable places, 
which, as it were, belong to the nation. Every actual proprietor, there- 
fore, ought to feel that the eyes of his country are upon him and upon 
his place — that, in fact, he holds it for his country — and that, farther, 
the tenure by which he holds it is that of an obligation to do all for it 
that industry, guided by the best taste, can effect, to make it a feature 
worthy of British landscape, 



There is no country, I believe — if we except China — where the art of 
laying out grounds is so much cultivated as it now is in England. For- 
merly the decorations near the house were infinitely more magnificent 
and expensive than they are at present ; but the embellishments of 
what are called the grounds, and of all the extensive scenery round the 
place were much less attended to ; and, in general, the park, with all 
its timber and thickets, was left in a state of picturesque neglect. As 
these embellishments are now extended over a wdiole district, and as 
they give a new and peculiar character to the general face of the country, 
it is well worth considering whether they give a natural and a beautiful 
one — and whether the present system of improving — to use a short, 
though often an inaccurate term — is founded on any just principles of 



In order to examine this question, the first inquiry will naturally be, 
whether there is any standard to which, in point of grouping and of 
general composition, works of this sort can be referred ; any authority 
higher than that of the persons who have gained the most general and 
popular reputation by those works, and whose method of conducting 
them has had the most extensive influence on the general taste? I 
think there is a standard — there are authorities of an infinitely higher 
kind — the authorities of those great artists who have most diligently 
studied the beauties of nature, both in their grandest and most general 
effects, and in their minutest detail — who have observed every variety 
of form and of colour — have been able to select and combine, and then, 
by the magic of their art, to fix upon the canvass all these various 

But however highly I may think of the art of painting, compared 
\\ itli that of improving, nothing can be farther from my intention — and 
I wish to impress it in the strongest manner on the reader's mind — than 
to recommend the study of pictures in preference to that of nature, 
much less to the exclusion of it. AVhoeA T er studies art alone, will have 
a narrow pedantic manner of considering all objects, and of referring 
them solely to the minute and practical purposes of that art — whatever 
it be — to which his attention has been particularly directed. Of this 
Mr. Brown's followers afford a very striking example ; and if it be 
right that every thing should be referred to art, at least let it be referred 
to one, whose variety, compared to the monotony of what is called im- 
provement, appears infinite, but which again falls as short of the bound- 
less variety of the mistress of all art. 

The use, therefore, of studying pictures, is not merely to make us ac- 
quainted with the combinations and effects that are contained in them, 
but to guide us, by means of those general heads — as they may be called 
— of composition, in our search of the numberless and untouched varieties 
and beauties of nature ; for as he who studies art only will have a con- 
fined taste, so he who looks at nature only, will have a vague and un- 
settled one ; and in this more extended sense I shall interpret the Italian 
proverb, " Chi sinsegna, ha un pazzo per maestro" — He is a fool who 
does not profit by the experience of others. 

We are therefore to profit by the experience contained in pictures, 
but not to content ourselves with that experience only ; nor are we to 
consider even those of the highest class as absolute and infallible stand- 
ards, but as the best and the only standards we have; as compositions, 
which, like those of the great classical authors, have been consecrated 
by long uninterrupted admiration, and which therefore have a similar 



claim to influence our judgment, and to form our taste in all that is 
within their province. These are the reasons for studying copies of na- 
ture, though the original is before us, that we may not lose the benefit 
of what is of such great moment in all arts and sciences, the accumulated 
experience of past ages ; and with respect to the art of improving, we 
may look upon pictures as a set of experiments of the different ways in 
which trees, buildings, water, &c. may be disposed, grouped, and ac- 
companied, in the most beautiful and striking manner, and in every 
style, from the most simple and rural, to the grandest and most orna- 
mental. Many of those objects, that are scarcely marked as they lie 
scattered over the face of nature, when brought together in the compass 
of a small space of canvass are forcibly impressed upon the eye, which 
by that means learns how to separate, to select, and to combine. 

Who can doubt whether Shakspeare and Fielding had not infinitely 
more amusement from society in all its various views than common ob- 
servers ? I believe it can be as little doubted, that the having read such 
authors must give any man, however acute his penetration, more enlarged 
views of human nature in general, as well as a more intimate accpiaintance 
with particular characters, than he would have had from the observation 
of nature only ; that many combinations of characters and of incidents, 
which might otherwise have escaped his notice, would forcibly strike 
him, from the recollection of scenes and passages in such writers ; that 
in all these cases, the pleasure we receive from what passes in real life 
is rendered infinitely more poignant, by a resemblance to what we 
have read, or have seen on the stage. Such an observer will not 
divide what passes into scenes and chapters, and be pleased with it in 
proportion as it will do for a novel or a play, but he will be pleased on 
the same principles as Shakspeare or Fielding would have been. The 
parallel that I wish to establish is very obvious : the works of genius 
in writing awaken and direct our attention towards many striking scenes 
and characters, which might otherwise escape us in real life, and the 
works of genius in painting point out to our notice a thousand effects 
and combinations of the happiest, though not of the most obvious kind, 
in real scenery. 

Had the art of improving been cultivated for as long a time, and upon 
as settled principles as that of painting, and were there extant various 
works of genius, which, like those of the other art, had stood the test of 
ages (though from the great change which the growth and decay of 
trees must produce in the original design of the artist, this is hardly 
possible) there would not be the same necessity of referring and com- 
paring the works of reality to those of imitation ; but as the case stands 


at present, the only models of composition that approach to perfection, 
the only fixed and u nchmui in (J selections from the works of nature united 
with those of art, are in the pictures and designs of the most eminent 

But although certain happy compositions, detached from the general 
mass of objects and considered by themselves, have the greatest and 
most lasting effect both in nature and painting ; and though the painter, 
in respect to his own art, may think of those only, and give himself no 
concern about the rest, he cannot do so if he be an improver as well as a 
painter; for he might then neglect or injure what was essential to the 
whole, by attending only to a part. By this we may perceive a great 
and obvious difference between a painter who confines himself to his own 
profession, and one who should add to it that of an improver; the first 
would only have to observe what formed a single composition or picture, 
which he might transfer upon his canvass ; the second must consider 
the whole range of scenery in which not only the most striking pictures 
or compositions are to be shown to advantage, but where all the inter- 
mediate parts, with all their bearings, relations, and connections, must 
be taken into the account. I have supposed, what I wish were oftener 
the case, an union of the two professions ; for it can hardly be doubted, 
that he who can best select the happiest compositions from the general 
mass of objects, and knows the principles on which he makes those se- 
lect ions, must also be the best qualified, should he turn his thoughts that 
way, to arrange the connections throughout an extensive scenery. He 
must likewise be the most competent judge — and nothing in the whole 
art of improvement requires a nicer discrimination — where, and in what 
degree, some inferior beauties should be sacrificed, in order to give 
greater effect to those of a higher order. I am far from meaning by 
this, that every painter is capable of becoming an improver in the good 
inse of the word, but only such as to a liberal mind, join a strong feel- 
ing for nature as well as art, and have directed their attention to the 
arrangement of real scenery ; for there is a wide difference between 
looking at nature merely with a view to making pictures, and looking 
at pictures with a view to the improvement of our ideas of nature : the 
former often does contract the taste when pursued too closely; the 
latter, I believe, as generally refines and enlarges it. The greatest 
painters were men of enlarged and liberal minds, and well acquainted 
with many arts besides their own. Leonardo da Vinci, Michael An- 
gelo, Raphael, Titian, were not merely patronised by the sovereigns of 
that period ; they were considered almost as friends by such men as 
Leo, Francis, and Charles, and were intimately connected with Aretino, 



Castiglione, and all the eminent wits of that time. Those great artists 

nor need I have gone so far back for examples — considered pictures 

and nature as throwing a reciprocal light on each other, and as connected 
with history, poetry, and all the fine arts ; but the practice of too many 
lovers of painting has been very different, and has, I believe, contributed 
in a great degree, and with great reason, to give a prejudice against the 
study of pictures as a preparation to that of nature. In the same man- 
ner that many painters consider natural scenery merely with a reference 
to their own practice, many connoisseurs consider pictures merely with 
a reference to other pictures, as a school in which they may learn the 
routine of their connoisseurship — that is an acquaintance with the most 
prominent marks and peculiarities of different masters : but they rarely 
look upon them in that point of view in which alone they can produce 
any real advantage — as a school in which we may learn to enlarge, re- 
fine, and correct our ideas of nature, and in return, may qualify ourselves 
by this more liberal course of study, to be real judges of what is excel- 
lent in imitation. This reflection may account for what otherwise seems 
quite unaccountable — namely, that many enthusiastic admirers and col- 
lectors of Claude, Poussin, &c. should have suffered professed improvers 
to deprive the general and extended scenery of their places of all that 
those painters would have most admired and copied. 

The great object of our present inquiry seems to be, what is that 
mode of study which will best enable a man, of a liberal and intelligent 
mind, to judge of the forms, colours, effects, and combinations of visible 
objects — to judge of them either as single compositions, which may be 
considered by themselves without reference to what surrounds them, 
or else as parts of scenery, the arrangement of which must be more or 
less regulated and restrained by what joins them, and the connection of 
which with the general scenery must be constantly attended to ? Such 
knowledge and judgment comprehend the whole science of improve- 
ment with regard to its effect on the eye ; and I believe can never be 
perfectly acquired, unless to the study of natural scenery, and of the 
various styles of gardening at different periods, the improver adds the 
theory at least of that art, the very essence of which is connection — a 
principle of all others the most adapted to correct the chief defects of 
improvers. Connection is a principle always present to the painter's 
mind, if he deserve that name ; and by the guidance of which he con- 
siders all sets of objects, whatever may be their character or boundaries, 
from the most extensive prospect to the most confined wood scene : 
neither referring every thing to the narrow limits of his canvass, nor 
despising what will not suit it, unless, indeed, the limits of his mind be 


equally narrow and contracted ; for when I speak of a painter, I mean 
: i 1 1 artist, not a mechanic. 

Whatever minute and partial objections may be made to the study 
of pictures for the purpose of improvement — many of which I have dis- 
cussed in my letter to Mr. Repton — yet certainly the great leading- 
principles of the one art — as general composition — grouping the sepa- 
rate parts — harmony of tints — unity of character, are equally applicable 
to the other. I may add also, what is so very essential to the painter, 
though at first sight it seems hardly within the province of the improver 
— breadth and effect of light and shade. 

These are called the principles of painting, because that art has 
pointed them out more clearly, by separating what was most striking 
and well combined, from the less interesting and scattered objects of 
general scenery ; but they are in reality the general principles on 
which the effect of all visible objects must depend, and to which it must 
be referred. 

Nothing can be more directly at war with all these principles, founded 
as they are in truth and in nature, than the present system of laying 
out grounds. A painter, or whoever views objects with a painter's eye, 
looks with indifference, if not with disgust, at the clumps, the belts, the 
made water, and the eternal smoothness and sameness of a finished 
place. An improver, on the other hand, considers these as the most 
perfect embellishment, as the last finishing touches that nature can re- 
ceive from art ; and, consequently, must think the finest composition of 
( Maude, whom I mention as the most ornamented of all the great mas- 
ters, comparatively rude and imperfect ; though he probably might 
allow, in Mr. Brown's phrase, that it had " capabilities." 

The account in Peregrine Pickle, of the gentleman who had improved 
Vandyke's portraits of his ancestors, used to strike me as rather outre ; 
but I met with a similar instance some years ago, that makes it appear 
much less so. I was looking at a collection of pictures with Gains- 
borough ; among the rest the housekeeper showed us a portrait of her 
master, which she said was by Sir Joshua Reynolds : we both stared, 
for not only the touch and the colouring, but the whole style of the 
drapery and the general effect had no resemblance to his manner. 
Upon examining the housekeeper more particularly, we discovered that 
her master had had every thing but the face — not retouched from the 
colours having faded — but totally changed, and newly composed, as well 
as painted, by another — and, I need not add, an inferior hand. 

Such a man would have felt as little scruple in making a Claude like 
his own place, as in making his own portrait like a scare-crow. 



But no one, I believe, has as yet been daring enough to improve a 
picture of Claude, or at least to acknowledge it ; yet I do not think it 
extravagant to suppose that a man, thoroughly persuaded, from his own 
taste and from the authority of such a writer as Mr. Walpole, that an 
art unknown to every age and climate — that of creating landscapes — 
had advanced with master-steps to vigorous perfection ; that enough 
had been done to establish such a school of landscape as cannot be found 
in the rest of the globe ; and that Milton s description of Paradise 
seems to have been copied from some piece of modern gardening ; — that 
such a man, full of enthusiasm for this new art, and with little venera- 
tion for that of painting, should choose to show the world what Claude 
might have been, had he had the advantage of seeing the works of Mr. 
Brown. The only difference he would make between improving a pic- 
ture and a real scene, would be that of employing a painter instead of 
a gardener. 

What would more immediately strike him would be the total want 
of that leading feature of all modern improvements — the clump ; and 
of course he would order several of them to be placed in the most open 
and conspicuous spots, with, perhaps, here and there a patch of larches, 
as forming a strong contrast in shape and colour to the Scotch firs. His 
eye, which had been used to see even the natural groups of trees in 
improved places, made as separate and clump-like as possible, would be 
shocked to see those of Claude — some with their steins half concealed 
by bushes and thickets ; others standing alone, but, by means of those 
thickets, or of detached trees, connected with other groups of various 
sizes and shapes. All this rubbish must be totally cleared away, the 
ground made everywhere quite smooth and level, and each group left 
upon the grass perfectly distinct and separate. 

Having been accustomed to whiten all distant buildings, those of 
Claude, from the effect of his soft vapoury atmosphere, would appear 
to him too indistinct ; the painter, of course, would be ordered to give 
them a smarter appearance, which might possibly be communicated to 
the nearer buildings also. Few modern houses or ornamental buildings 
are so placed among trees, and partially hidden by them, as to conceal 
much of the skill of the architect, or the expense of the possessor ; but 
in Claude, not only ruins, but temples and palaces, are often so mixed 
with trees, that the tops overhang their balustrades, and the luxuriant 
branches shoot between the openings of their magnificent columns and 
porticos ; as he would not suffer his own buildings to be so masked, 
neither would he those of Claude ; and these luxuriant boughs, with all 



that obstructed a full view of them, the painter would be told to ex- 
punge, and carefully to restore the ornaments they had concealed. 

The Last finishing, both to places and pictures, is water. In Claude, 
it partakes of the general softness and dressed appearance of his scenes, 
and the accompaniments have, perhaps, less of rudeness than in any 
other master. One of my countrymen at Rome was observing, that 
the water in the Colonna Claude had rather too dressed and artificial 
an appearance. A Frenchman, who was also looking at the picture, 
cried out, " Cependant, Monsieur, on pourroit y donner une si belle 
fdte 1" This was very characteristic of that gay nation, but it is equally 
so of a number of Claude's pictures. They have an air de fete beyond 
all others ; and there is no painter whose works ought to be so much 
studied for highly dressed yet varied nature. Yet, compared with those 
of a piece of made water, or of an improved river, his banks are per- 
fectly savage ; parts of them covered with trees and bushes that hang 
over the water ; and near the edge of it, tussucks of rushes, large stones, 
and stumps ; the ground sometimes smooth, sometimes broken and ab- 
rupt, and seldom keeping, for a long space, the same level from the 
water — no curves that answer each other — no resemblance, in short, to 
what the improver had been used to admire : a few strokes of the 
painter's brush would reduce the bank on each side to one level, to one 
green ; would make curve answer curve, without bush or tree to hinder 
the eye from enjoying the uniform smoothness and verdure, and from 
pursuing without interruption the continued sweep of these serpentine 
lines ; — a little cleaning and polishing of the foreground, would give 
the last touches of improvement, and complete the picture. 

There is not a person, in the smallest degree conversant with painting, 
who would not at the same time be shocked and diverted at the black 
spots and the white spots — the naked water — the naked buildings — the 
scattered unconnected groups of trees, and all the gross and glaring 
violations of every principle of the art ; and yet this, without any ex- 
aggeration, is the method in which many scenes worthy of Claude's 
pencil, have been improved. Is it then possible to imagine, that the 
beauties of imitation should be so distinct from those of reality, nay, so 
completely at variance, that what disgraces and makes a picture ridicu- 
lous, should become ornamental when applied to nature ? 

[From my own knowledge I can say, that however valuable the 
study of pictures may be for giving perfection to professors of landscape 
gardening, the painting of them does not always produce this effect. 



Artists, and especially young artists, have, not unfrequently, their 
tastes so much narrowed by their devotion to certain styles of subject, 
as to be incapable of enjoying, or even of tolerating any thing in nature, 
however excellent it may be, if it be of a different character from that 
which they affect in their works. By attempting to become artists, 
they have ceased to be men, or to be able to sympathise with the uni- 
versality of human feeling. It would be vain to expect that landscape 
gardeners could be made of such men, with the hope of their producing 
scenes which should give general delight to minds expanded by educa- 
tion, and the love of nature. I have sometimes travelled through the 
most interesting countries with individuals of this cast, and found that 
great as was the delight which I was experiencing from the contem- 
plation of the scenes we passed through, nothing could call forth one 
exclamation of pleasure from my companions, until something chanced 
to arise before their eyes of a character in harmony with that of the 
subjects they were most prone to paint. Such men would pass over 
nine-tenths of the finest places in England, and refuse to give any other 
opinion than that all was barren. That artist, indeed, who has followed 
and observed nature throughout all her different walks — who can draw 
enjoyment from associating himself with her in her softest and quietest 
scenes, and in her more placid moods, as well as when she wildly wan- 
ders amid the dark woods and rocky fastnesses, and by the thundering 
cataracts of her mountains — such a man as this, I say, may well prove 
a profound master, not only in the composition of pictures on canvass, 
but in that also of those which may be created in actual landscape ; but 
for excellence in that generalization necessary for landscape gardening, 
I consider that a very universal study of pictures will do more to accom- 
plish the individual, than the particular practice of any one style of 
painting them. It appears indeed to me, that nothing can possibly 
tend more to educate the mind, for the just conception of such a true 
taste in landscape gardening as may enable its possessor to prosecute 
this delightful art with the hope of generally awakening agreeable 
associations in cultivated minds, than the frequent and extensive study 
of the works of the best landscape painters, modern as well as ancient. 
Nay, I cannot doubt that the great growth of the art of landscape 
painting, and the immense multiplication of that art in our days, as 
well as of the art of landscape drawing and engraving, all of which are 
daily increasing the taste for the enjoyment of the works produced by 
them, must have a tendency to augment the general love of nature, and 
so to multiply the individuals of that cultivated class who are prepared 
to receive agreeable impressions from its happier combinations ; and 


thus, by reaction, to foster and to perfect the art of landscape gardening 
Itself* Indeed, if the more general acquaintance which mankind are 
gradually obtaining with graphic scenes, should have no other effect 
than that of arresting the hideous strides of the demon of false taste in 
gardening, whose footsteps have disfigured so much of the face of our 
country, we shall have good reason to he thankful. But lam sanguine 
enough to anticipate that it may do much more than this, and that 
through this influence of the graphic art, landscape gardening may in 
future 1m- expected to be widely extended upon those just and natural 
principles which can alone make its very existence desirable. — E.] 




It seems to me that the neglect — which prevails in the works of modern 
improvers — of all that is picturesque, is owing to their exclusive atten- 
tion to high polish and flowing lines — the charms of which they are so 
engaged in contemplating, that they overlook two of the most fruitful 
sources of human pleasure : the first, that great and universal source of 
pleasure, variety — the power of which is independent of beauty, but 
without which even beauty itself soon ceases to please ; the second, in- 
tricacy — a quality wdiich, though distinct from variety, is so connected 
and blended with it, that the one can hardly exist without the other. 

According to the idea I have formed of it, intricacy in landscape 
might be defined, that disposition of objects, which, by a partial and 
uncertain concealment, excites and flourishes curiosity. Many per 
sons, who take little concern in the intricacy of oaks, beeches, and 
thorns, may feel the effects of partial concealment in more interesting 
objects, and may have experienced how differently the passions are 



moved by an open licentious display of beauties, and by the unguarded 
disorder which sometimes escapes the care of modesty, and which 
coquetry so successfully imitates : — ■ 

Parte appar dellc mamme acerbe et crude, 
Parte altrui ne rieuopre invida veste ; 
Invida si, ma *e agli occhi il varco chiude, 
L 'amoroso pensier gia non s'arresta. 

Variety can hardly require a definition, though from the practice of 
ni;iiiy layers-out of ground, one might suppose it did. Upon the whole, 
it appears to me, that as intricacy in the disposition, and variety in the 
tonus, the tints, and the lights and shadows of objects, are the great 
characteristics of picturesque scenery; so monotony and baldness, are 
the great defects of improved places. 

Nothing would place this in so distinct a point of view, as a com- 
parison between some familiar scene in its natural and picturesque 
state, and in that which would be its improved state according to the 
present mode of gardening. All painters who have imitated the more 
con tined scenes of nature, have been fond of making studies from old 
neglected bye-roads and hollow- ways; and perhaps there are few spots 
that, in so small a compass, have a greater variety of that sort of beauty 
called picturesque ; but, I believe, the instances are very rare of pain- 
ters, who have turned out volunteers into a gentleman's walk or drive, 
either when made between artificial banks, or when the natural sides or 
banks have been improved. I shall endeavour to examine whence it 
happens, that a painter looks coldly on what is very generally admired, 
and discovers a thousand interesting objects, where an improver passes 
on with indifference, if not with disgust. 

Perhaps what is most immediately striking in a lane of this kind is 
its intricacy. Any winding road, indeed, especially where there are 
banks, must necessarily have some degree of intricacy ; but in a dressed 
lane every effort of art seems directed against that disposition of the 
ground — the sides are so regularly sloped, so regularly planted, and the 
space, when there is any, between them and the road, so uniformly 
levelled ; the sweeps of the road so plainly artificial, the verges of grass 
that bound it so nicely edged — the whole, in short, has such an appear- 
ance of having been made by a receipt, that curiosity, that most active 
principle of pleasure, is almost extinguished. 

But in hollow-lanes and by-roads, all the leading features, and a 
thousand circumstances of detail, promote the natural intricacy of the 
ground : the turns are sudden and unprepared — the banks sometimes 
broken and abrupt — sometimes smooth and gently, but not uniformly 



sloping — now wildly overhung with thickets of trees and bushes — now 
loosely skirted with wood — no regular verge of grass, no cut edges, no 
distinct lines of separation — all is mixed and blended together, and the 
border of the road itself, shaped by the mere tread of passengers and 
animals, is as unconstrained as the footsteps that formed it. Even the 
tracks of the wheels — for no circumstance is indifferent — contribute to 
the picturesque effect of the whole ; the varied lines they describe just 
mark the way among trees and bushes — often some obstacle, a cluster 
of low thorns, a furze bush, a tussuck, a large stone, forces the wheels 
into sudden and intricate turns — often a group of trees or a thicket, 
occasions the road to separate into two parts, leaving a sort of island in 
the middle. 

These are a few of the picturesque accidents, which, in lanes and 
by-roads, attract the notice of painters. In many scenes of that kind, 
the varieties of form, of colour, and of light and shade, which present 
themselves at every step, are numberless ; and it is a singular circum- 
stance, that some of the most striking among them should be owing to 
the indiscriminate hacking of the peasant, nay, to the very decay that 
is occasioned by it. When opposed to the tameness of the poor pinioned 
trees — whatever their age — of a gentleman's plantation drawn up straight 
and even together, there is often a sort of spirit and animation in the 
manner in which old neglected pollards stretch out their limbs quite 
across these hollow roads, in every wild and irregular direction ; on 
some, the large knots and protuberances add to the ruggedness of their 
twisted trunks ; in others, the deep hollow of the inside, the mosses on 
the bark, the rich yellow of the touch-wood, with the blackness of the 
more decayed substance, afford such variety of tints, of brilliant and 
mellow lights, with deep and peculiar shades, as the finest timber tree, 
however beautiful in other respects, with all its health and vigour can- 
not exhibit. 

This careless method of cutting, just as the farmer happened to want 
a few stakes or poles, gives infinite variety to the general outline of the 
banks. Near to one of these " unwedgeable and gnarled oaks," often 
rises the slender elegant form of a young beech, ash, or birch, that had 
escaped the axe, whose tender bark and light foliage appear still more 
delicate and airy, when seen sideways against the rough bark and 
massy head of the oak — sometimes it rises alone from the bank — some- 
times from amid a cluster of rich hollies or wild junipers — sometimes 
its light and upright stem is embraced by the projecting cedar-like 
boughs of the yew. 

The ground itself in these lanes is as much varied in form, tint, and 


lighl and shade, as the plants that grow upon it; this, as usual, instead 
of owing any thing to art, is, on the contrary, occasioned by accident 
and neglect. The winter torrents in some places wash down the mould 
from the upper grounds, and form projections of various shapes, which, 
from the fatness of the soil, are generally enriched with the most luxu- 
riant vegetation ; in other parts they tear the banks into deep hollows, 
discovering the different strata of earth, and the shaggy roots of trees. 
These hollows are frequently overgrown with wild roses, with honey- 
suckles, periwincles, and other trailing plants, which, with their flowers 
and pendant branches, have quite a different effect when hanging loosely 
over one of these recesses, opposed to its deep shade, and mixed with 
the fantastic roots of trees and the varied tints of the soil, from that 
which they produce when they are trimmed into bushes, or crawl along 
a shrubbery, where the ground has been worked into one uniform slope. 
In the summer time these little caverns afford a cool retreat for the 
sheep ; and it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful foreground than 
is formed by the different groups of them in one of these lanes ; some 
feeding on the patches of turf, that in the wider parts are intermixed 
with the fern and bushes ; some lying in the niches they have worn in 
the banks among the roots of trees, and to which they have made many 
sidelong paths ; some reposing in these deep recesses, their bowers 

O'er-canopied with luscious eglantine. 

Near the house, picturesque beauty must, in many cases, be sacrificed 
to neatness ; but it is a sacrifice, and one which should not wantonly 
be made. A gravel walk cannot have the playful variety of a by- 
road ; there must be a border to the gravel, and that and the sweeps 
must, in great measure, be regular, and consequently formal. I am 
convinced, however, that many of the circumstances which give variety 
and spirit to a wild spot, might be successfully imitated in a dressed 
place ; but it must be done by attending to the principles, not by copy- 
ing the particulars. It is not necessary to model a gravel walk or drive 
after a sheep track or a cart rut, though very useful hints may be taken 
from them both ; and without having water-docks or thistles before one's 
door, their effect in a painters foreground may be produced by plants 
that are considered as ornamental. I am equally persuaded that a 
dressed appearance might be given to one of these lanes, without de- 
stroying its peculiar and characteristic beauties. 

I have said little of the superior variety and effect of light and shade 
in scenes of this kind, as they of course must follow variety of forms 
and of masses, and intricacy of disposition. I wished to avoid all de- 



tail that did not appear to me necessary to explain or illustrate some 
general principles ; but when general principles are put crudely without 
examples, they not only are dry, but obscure, and make no impression. 

There are several ways in which a spot of this kind near a gentle- 
man's place would probably be improved ; for even in the monotony of 
what is called improvement, there is a variety of bad. Some, perhaps, 
would cut down the old pollards, clear the rubbish, and leave only the 
maiden trees standing ; some might plant up the whole ; others grub 
up every thing, and make a shrubbery on each side ; others put clumps 
of shrubs, or of firs ; but there is one improvement which I am afraid 
almost all who had not been used to look at objects with a painter's 
eye would adopt, and which alone would entirely destroy its character — 
that is smoothing and levelling the ground. The moment this mecha- 
nical commonplace operation, by which Mr. Brown and his followers 
have gained so much credit, is begun, adieu to all that the painter ad- 
mires — to all intricacies — to all the beautiful varieties of form, tint, and 
light and shade ; every deep recess — every bold projection — the fantas- 
tic roots of trees — the winding paths of sheep — all must go ; in a few 
hours, the rash hand of false taste completely demolishes what time only, 
and a thousand lucky accidents can mature, so as to make it become the 
admiration and study of a Ruysdael or a Gainsborough ; and reduces it 
to such a thing as an oilman in Thames Street may at any time contract 
for by the yard at Islington or Mile-End. 

I had lately an opportunity of observing the progress of improvement 
in one lane, and the effect of it in another, both unfortunately bordering 
on gentlemen's pleasure grounds. The first had on one side a high bank 
full of the beauties I have described ; I was particularly struck with a 
beech which stood single on one part of it, and with the effect and cha- 
racter which its spreading roots gave, both to the bank and to the tree 
itself : the sheep also had made their sidelong paths to this spot, and 
often lay in the little compartments between the roots. One day I 
found a great many labourers wheeling mould to this place ; by degrees 
they filled up all inequalities, and completely covered the roots and 
pathways ; one would have supposed they were working for my Uncle 
Toby, under the direction of Corporal Trim, for they had converted this 
varied bank into a perfect glacis, only the gazons were omitted. They 
had, however, worked up the mould they had wheeled into a sort of 
a mortar, and had laid it as smooth from top to bottom as a mason could 
have done with his trowel. From the number of men employed, the 
quantity of earth wheeled, and the nicety with which this operation was 
performed, I am persuaded it was, in a great measure, done for the sake 



of beauty. Those worthy pioneers, their employment, and their em- 
ployers, are very aptly described in two verses of Tasso, and especially 
if the word guast atari* be taken in its most obvious sense : 

Inanzi i guastatori avea mandati, 

I vuoti luoglii cmpir 1 , et spianar gli erti. 

This is a most complete receipt for spoiling a picturesque spot ; and one 
might suppose, from this military style having been so generally adopted, 
and every thing laid open, that our improvers are fearful of an enemy 
being in ambuscade among the bushes of a gravel pit, or lurking in some 
intricate group of trees. In that respect, it must be owned, the clump 
has infinite merit ; for it may be reconnoitred from every point, and 
seen through in every direction. 

The improved part of the other lane I never saw in its original state ; 
but by what remains untouched, and by the accounts I heard, it must 
have afforded noble studies for a painter. The banks are higher and 
the trees arc larger than in the other lane, and their branches, stretch- 
ing from side to side, 

" High over arch'd embower." 

I heard a vast deal from the gardener of the place near it, about the 
large ugly roots that appeared above ground, the large holes the sheep 
used to lie in, and the rubbish of all kinds that used to grow about 
them. The last possessor took care to fill up and clean, as far as his 
property went ; and, that every thing might look regular, he put, as a 
boundary to the road, a row of white pales at the foot of the bank on 
(Mic h side, and on that next his house he raised a peat wall as upright 
as it could well stand, by way of a facing to the old bank, and in the 
middle of this peat wall, planted a row of laurels : this row the gar- 
dener used to cut quite flat at top, and the cattle reaching over the 
pales, and browsing the lower shoots within their bite, kept it as even 
at bottom ; so that it formed one projecting lump in the middle, and 
had just as picturesque an appearance as a bushy wig squeezed between 
the hat and the cape. I should add, that these two specimens of dressed 
lanes are not in a distant county, but within thirty miles of London, 
and in a district full of expensive embellishments. 

I am afraid many of my readers will think that I have been a long 
while getting through these lanes ; but in them, in old quarries, and long 
neglected chalk and gravel pits, a great deal of what constitutes, and 

* Spoilers. 



what destroys picturesque beauty, is strongly exemplified within a small 
compass, and in spots easily resorted to ; the causes, too, are as clearly 
marked, and may be as successfully studied, as where the higher styles 
of it, often mixed with the sublime, are displayed among forests, rocks, 
and mountains. 

QThere is no doubt that, with all one's love for the picturesque in 
roads, it must be admitted, that the convenience and comfort of travel- 
ling smoothly over them at all times is not only to be highly appreciated, 
but it is to be considered as an essential ingredient in human happiness ; 
and if there be any situation where this necessary of life is more to be 
desired in perfection than another, it is when we are approaching a 
friend's house in the country through its surrounding grounds. The 
smoothness of the surface of the road over which your carriage bowls on 
its way up to the portal of the mansion, feels like a sort of guarantee for 
that easy hospitality which you are to enjoy when you are fairly under 
his roof ; whilst, on the other hand, the host who gives you, perhaps, a 
mile or more of rough, troublesome, or dangerous driving before you can 
reach his door, seems to give you a hint, in pretty plain language, that he 
should not be at all sorry if the breaking of your springs, the overturn of 
your carriage, and, perhaps, the consequent fracture of your ribs or limbs, 
should arrest your progress, and save him from your company. Then, 
much as I have always enjoyed a scramble along some mountain side, or 
through some rough pathless forest, or rocky dingle, I have ever felt that 
all drives or walks which are intended to develop the beauties of the 
parks or pleasure grounds, should be of the best and smoothest possible 
composition of surface, so that the fair and delicate occupants of the 
open carriage or pony phaeton, may enjoy every scene with the same 
ease and tranquillity as the hardier equestrians or pedestrians of the 
party. At the same time, it is quite possible so to manage the edges 
of such pleasure roads as not to offend the picturesque eye. Near the 
house, we hold, that they must partake of that polish — that architectu- 
ral harmony — that apparent care, and even expense, which gratifies our 
eyes in the mansion itself, both without and within doors. But as the 
gay confusion of gorgeous and tasteful furniture gives us more pleasure 
in the apartments, than their meagre walls would do without it, how- 
ever splendidly they may be painted or covered, so I conceive that the 
accessaries of happily chosen shrubs and plants of the rarer yet most 
picturesque kinds, starting in profusion out of the turf in well disposed 
groups, and combining gracefully with the statues, balustrades, vases, and 
other architectural features belonging to the house, produce an intricacy 


infinitely more pleasing than that bareness which we too often see ac- 
companying the approach up to the very door. With a due considera- 
tion for the beauty of fitness, this is all that the most fastidious artist can 
demand lor the immediate home part or central terminus of the pleasure 
roads. As they begin to steal away from the vicinity of the mansion, 
the same effect must he produced, yet with a due attention to circum- 
stances ; and the groups must not only be of greater magnitude, but 
they must he composed of plants and shrubs of larger growth and of 
wilder character, such as thorns, hollies, yews, &c, which always mingle 
well in composition with the taller and wider spreading trees. And 
then when the road has carried us into the denser woodlands, we should 
begin to find the edges of it broken and irregular, so as to be in perfect 
harmony with that nature which ought now to be found luxuriating all 
around us, to the wildness of which art may be allowed to add every 
charm that may be given without the appearance of design, but where 
it must never obtrude any thing that can possibly betray its presence. 




There are few words whose meaning has been less accurately deter- 
mined than that of the word picturesque. 

In general, I believe, it is applied to every object, and every kind of 
scenery, which has been or might be represented with good effect in 
painting — just as the word beautiful, when we speak of visible nature, 
is applied to every object and every kind of scenery that in any way 
give pleasure to the eye — and these seem to be the significations of both 
words, taken in their most extended and popular sense. A more pre- 
cise and distinct idea of beauty has been given in an essay, the early 
splendour of which not even the full meridian blaze of its illustrious 
author has been able to extinguish ; but the picturesque, considered as 
a separate character, has never yet been accurately distinguished from 
the sublime and the beautiful ; though as no one has ever pretended 
that they are synonymous, (for it is sometimes used in contradistinction 
to them,) such a distinction must exist. 

Mr. Gilpin, from whose very ingenious and extensive observations 
<>n this subject I have received great pleasure and instruction, appears 



to have adopted this common acceptation, not merely as such, but as 
giving an exact and determinate idea of the word ; for he defines pic- 
turesque objects to be those " which please from some quality capable 
of being illustrated in painting;"* or, as he again defines it in his Let- 
ter to Sir Joshua Reynolds, " such objects as are proper subjects for 
painting."t Both these definitions seem to me — what may perhaps 
appear a contradiction — at once too vague and too confined ; for though 
we are not to expect any definition to be so accurate and comprehensive 
as both to supply the place and stand the test of investigation, yet if 
it do not in some degree separate the thing defined from all others, it 
differs little from any general truth on the same subject. For instance, 
it is very true that picturesque objects do please from some quality 
capable of being illustrated in painting; but so also does every object 
that is represented in painting if it please at all, otherwise it would not 
have been painted ; and hence we ought to conclude, what certainly is 
not meant, that all objects which please in pictures are therefore pic- 
turesque — for no distinction or exclusion is made. Were any other 
person to define picturesque objects to be those which please from some 
striking effect of form, colour, or light and shadow — such a definition 
would indeed give but a very indistinct idea of the thing defined ; but 
it would be hardly more vague, and at the same time much less confined 
than the others, for it would not have an exclusive reference to a parti- 
cular art. 

I hope to show in the course of this work, that the picturesque has a 
character not less separate and distinct than either the sublime or the 
b butiful, nor less independent of the art of painting. It has indeed 
been pointed out and illustrated by that art, and is one of its most strik- 
ing ornaments ; but has not beauty been pointed out and illustrated by 
that art also, nay, according to the poet, brought into existence by it ? 

Si Venerem Cous nunquam posuisset Apelles, 
Mersa sub aequoreis ilia lateret aquis. 

Examine the forms of the early Italian painters, or of those who, at 
a later period, lived where the study of the antique, then fully operat- 
ing at Rome on minds highly prepared for its influence, had not yet 
taught them to separate what is beautiful, from the general mass : you 
might almost conclude that beauty did not then exist ; yet those paint- 
ers were capable of exact imitation, though not of selection. Examine 

* Essay on Picturesque Beauty, p. 1. 

-(- End of Essay on Picturesque Beauty, p. 36. 



grandeur of form iu the same manner ; look at the dry meagre forms 
of Albert Durer — a man of genius even in Raphael's estimation — of 
Pietro Perugino, Andrea Mantegna, &c, and compare them with those 
of M. Angelo and Raphael : nature was not more dry and meagre in 
Germany or Perugia than at Rome. Compare their landscapes and back 
grounds with those of Titian ; nature was not changed, but a mind of a 
higher cast, and instructed by the experience of all who had gone before, 
rejected minute detail ; and pointed out, by means of such selections, and 
such combinations as were congenial to its own sublime conceptions, in 
what forms, in what colours, and in what effects, grandeur in landscape 
consisted. Can it then be doubted that grandeur and beauty have been 
pointed out and illustrated by painting as well as picturesqueness ? * 
Yet, would it be a just definition of sublime or of beautiful objects, to 
say that they were such (and, let the words be taken in their most 
liberal construction) as pleased from some quality capable of h&ing 
illustrated in painting, or, that were proper subjects for that art ? 
The ancients, indeed, not only referred beauty of form to painting, but 
even beauty of colour ; and the poet who could describe his mistress's 
complexion by comparing it to the tints of Apelles's pictures, must have 
thought that beauty of every kind was highly illustrated by the art to 
which he referred. 

The principles of those two leading characters in nature — the sublime 
and the beautiful — have been fully illustrated and discriminated by a 
great master ; but even when I first read that most original work, I 
felt that there were numberless objects which give great delight to the 
eye, and yet differ as widely from the beautiful as from the sublime. 
The reflections which I have since been led to make, have convinced 
me that these objects form a distinct class, and belong to what may 
properly be called the picturesque. 

That term, as we may judge from its etymology, is applied only to 
objects of sight ; and, indeed, in so confined a manner as to be sup- 
posed merely to have a reference to the art from which it is named. I 
am well convinced, however, that the name and reference only are 
limited and uncertain, and that the qualities which make objects pic- 
turesque, are not only as distinct as those which make them beautiful 
or sublime, but are equally extended to all our sensations by whatever 
organs they are received ; and that music — though it appears like a 

* I have ventured to make use of this word, which I believe does not occur in any 
writer, from what appeared to me the necessity of having some one word to oppose 
to beauty and sublimity, in a work where they are so often compared. 



solecism — may be as truly picturesque, according to the general prin- 
ciples of picturesqueness, as it may be beautiful or sublime, according 
to those of beauty or sublimity. 

But there is one circumstance particularly adverse to this part of my 
essay : I mean the manifest derivation of the word picturesque. The 
Italian pittoresco is, I imagine, of earlier date than either the English 
or the French word, the latter of which, pittoresque, is clearly taken 
from it, having no analogy to its own tongue. Pittoresco is derived, 
not like picturesque, from the thing painted, but from the painter ; and 
this difference is not wholly immaterial. The English word refers to 
the performance, and the objects most suited to it : the Italian and 
French words have a reference to the turn of mind common to painters ; 
who, from the constant habit of examining all the peculiar effects and 
combinations, as well as the general appearance of nature, are struck 
with numberless circumstances, even where they are incapable of being 
represented, to which an unpractised eye pays little or no attention. 
The English word naturally draws the reader's mind towards pictures ; 
and from that partial and confined view of the subject, what is in truth 
only an illustration of picturesqueness, becomes the foundation of it. 
The words sublime and beautiful have not the same etymological refer- 
ence to any one visible art, and therefore are applied to objects of the 
other senses : sublime, indeed, in the language from which it is taken, 
and in its plain sense, means high ; and therefore, perhaps, in strict- 
ness, should relate to objects of sight only ; yet we no more scruple to 
call one of Handel's chorusses sublime, than Corelli's famous pastorale 
beautiful. But should any person simply, and without any qualifying 
expressions, call a capricious movement of Scarlatti or Haydn pictu- 
resque, he would, with great reason, be laughed at, for it is not a term 
applied to sounds ; yet such a movement, from its sudden, unexpected, 
and abrupt transitions — from a certain playful wildness of character 
and appearance of irregularity, is no less analogous to similar scenery 
in nature, than the concerto or the chorus, to what is grand or beauti- 
ful to the eye. 

There is, indeed, a general harmony and correspondence in all our 
sensations when they arise from similar causes, though they affect us by 
means of different senses; and these causes, as Mr. Burke has admir- 
ably pointed out,* can never be so clearly ascertained when we confine 
our observations to one sense only. 

I must here observe, and I wish the reader to keep it in his mind, 

* Sublime and Beautiful, p. 236. 



that the inquiry is not in what sense certain words are used in the best 
authors, still less what is their common, and vulgar use, and abuse ; but 
whether there be certain qualities, which uniformly produce the same 
effects in all visible objects, and, according to the same analogy, in 
objects of hearing and of all the other senses ; and which qualities, 
though frequently blended and united with others in the same object or 
set of objects, may be separated from them, and assigned to the class to 
which they belong. 

If it can be shown that a character composed of these qualities, and 
distinct from all others, does universally prevail ; if it can be traced in 
the different objects of art and of nature, and appears consistent through- 
out, it surely deserves a distinct title ; but, with respect to the real 
ground of inquiry, it matters little whether such a character, or the set 
of objects belonging to it, be called beautiful, sublime, or picturesque, 
or by any other name, or by no name at all. 

Beauty is so much the most enchanting and popular quality, that it 
is often applied as the highest commendation to whatever gives us 
pleasure, or raises our admiration, be the cause what it will. Mr, 
Burke has given several instances of these ill-judged applications, and 
of the confusion of ideas which result from them ; but there is nothing 
more ill-judged, or more likely to create confusion, if we at all agree 
with Mr. Burke in his idea of beauty, than the mode which prevails of 
joining together two words of a different, and in some respects of an 
opposite meaning, and calling the character by the title of Picturesque 

I must observe, however, that I by no means object to the expres- 
sion itself ; I only object to it as a general term for the character, and 
as comprehending every kind of scenery, and every set of objects which 
look well in a picture. That is the sense, as far as I have observed, in 
which it is very commonly used ; consequently, an old hovel, an old 
cart-horse, or an old woman, are often, in that sense, full of picturesque 
beauty ; and certainly the application of the last term to such objects, 
must tend to confuse our ideas : but were the expression restrained to 
those objects only, in which the picturesque and the beautiful are mixed 
together, and so mixed that the result, according to common apprehen- 
sion, is beautiful ; and were it never used when the picturesque — as it 
no less frequently happens — is mixed solely with what is terrible, ugly, 
or deformed, I should highly approve of the expression, and wish for 
more distinctions of the same kind. 

In reality, the picturesque not only differs from the beautiful in those 
qualities which Mr. Burke has so justly ascribed to it, but arises from 
qualities the most diametrically opposite. 



According to Mr. Burke, one of the most essential qualities of beauty 
is smoothness ; now, as the perfection of smoothness is absolute equality 
and uniformity of surface, wherever that prevails there can be but little 
variety or intricacy; as, for instance, in smooth level banks, on a small, 
or in open downs, on a large scale. Another essential quality of beauty 
is gradual variation ; that is — to make use of Mr. Burke's expression — 
w here the lines do not vary in a sudden and broken manner, and where 
there is no sudden protuberance : it requires but little reflection to per- 
ceive, that the exclusion of all but flowing lines cannot promote variety ; 
and that sudden protuberances, and lines that cross each other in a 
sudden and broken manner, are among the most fruitful causes of 

I am therefore persuaded, that the two opposite qualities of roughness,* 
and of sudden variation, joined to that of irregularity, are the most 
efficient causes of the picturesque. 

This, I think, will appear very clearly, if we take a view of those 
objects, both natural and artificial, that are allowed to be picturesque, 
and compare them with those which are as generally allowed to be 

A temple or palace of Grecian architecture in its perfect entire state, 
and with its surface and colour smooth and even, either in painting or 
reality, is beautiful ; in ruin it is picturesque. Observe the process by 
which Time, the great author of such changes, converts a beautiful object 
into a picturesque one : First, by means of weather stains, partial in- 
crustations, mosses, &c. it at the same time takes off' from the uniformity 
of the surface, and of the colour ; that is, gives a degree of roughness, 
and variety of tint. Next, the various accidents of weather loosen the 
stones themselves ; they tumble in irregular masses upon what was 
perhaps smooth turf or pavement, or nicely-trimmed walks and shrub- 
beries — now mixed and overgrown with wild plants and creepers, that 
crawl over, and shoot among the fallen ruins. Sedums, wall-flowers, 
and other vegetables that bear drought, find nourishment in the decayed 
cement from which the stones have been detached ; birds convey their 
food into the chinks, and yew, elder, and other berried plants project 
from the sides ; while the ivy mantles over other parts, and crowns the 

* I have followed Mr. Gilpin's example in using roughness as a general term. He 
observes, however, that, " properly speaking, roughness relates only to the surface of 
bodies ; and that when we speak of their delineation, we use the word ruggedness." 
In making roughness, in this general sense, a very principal distinction between the 
beautiful and the picturesque, I believe I am supported by the general opinion of all 
who have considered the subject, as well as by Mr. Gilpin's authority. 



top. The even, regular lines of the doors and windows are broken, 
:ui'l through their ivy-fringed openings is displayed, in a more broken 
and picturesque manner, that striking image in Virgil, 
" Apparet domus intus, et atria longa patescunt ; 
Apparent Priami et veterum penetralia regum." 

Gothic architecture is generally considered as more picturesque, though 
less beautiful, than Grecian ; and upon the same principle that a ruin is 
more so than a new edifice. The first thing that strikes the eye in ap- 
proaching any building, is the general outline, and the effect of the open- 
ings. In Grecian buildings, the general lines of the roof are straight ; 
and even when varied and adorned by a dome or a pediment, the 
whole has a character of symmetry and regularity. But symmetry, 
which in works of art particularly accords with the beautiful, is in the 
same degree adverse to the picturesque ; and among the various causes 
of the superior picturesqueness of ruins, compared with entire buildings, 
the destruction of symmetry is by no means the least powerful. 

In Gothic buildings, the outline of the summit presents such a variety 
of forms, of turrets and pinnacles, some open, some fretted and variously 
enriched, that even where there is an exact correspondence of parts, it 
is often disguised by an appearance of splendid confusion and irregularity. 
There is a line in Dryden's Palamon and Arcite, which might be inter- 
preted according to this idea, though I do not suppose he intended to 
convey any such meaning — 

" And all appeared irregularly great." 

In the doors and windows of Gothic churches, the pointed arch has as 
much variety as any regular figure can well have ; the eye, too, is less 
strongly conducted than by the parallel lines in the Grecian style, from 
the top of one aperture to that of another ; and every person must be 
struck with the extreme richness and intricacy of some of the principal 
windows of our cathedrals and ruined abbeys. In these last is displayed 
the triumph of the picturesque ; and their charms to a painter's eye are 
often so great, as to rival those which arise from the chaste ornaments, 
and the noble and elegant simplicity of Grecian architecture. 

Some people may, perhaps, be unwilling to allow, that in ruins of 
Grecian and Gothic architecture, any considerable part of the specta- 
tor's pleasure arises from the picturesque circumstances ; and may choose 
to attribute the whole, to what may justly claim a great share in that 
plcasuro — the elegance or grandeur of their forms — the veneration of 
high antiquity — or the solemnity of religious awe ; in a word, to the 
mixture of the two other characters. But were this true, yet there are 



many buildings, highly interesting to all who have united the study of 
art with that of nature, in which beauty and grandeur are equally out 
of the question — such as hovels, cottages, mills, insides of old barns, 
stables, &c. whenever they have any marked and peculiar effect of form, 
tint, or light and shadow. In mills particularly, such is the extreme in- 
tricacy of the wheels and the wood work — such the singular variety of 
forms and of lights and shadows, of mosses and weather stains from the 
constant moisture, of plants springing from the rough joints of the stones 
— such the assemblage of every thing which most conduces to pictures- 
queness, that, even without the addition of water, an old mill has the 
greatest charm for a painter. 

It is owing to the same causes, that a building with scaffolding has 
often a more picturesque appearance, than the building itself when the 
scaffolding is taken away ; that old, mossy, rough-hewn park pales of 
unequal heights are an ornament to landscape, especially when they are 
partially concealed by thickets, while a neat post and rail, regularly con- 
tinued round a field, and seen without any interruption, is one of the 
most unpicturesque, as being one of the most uniform, of all boundaries. 

But among all the objects of nature, there is none in which roughness 
and smoothness more strongly mark the distinction between the two 
characters, than in water. A calm, clear lake, with the reflections of all 
that surrounds it, viewed under the influence of a setting sun, at the 
close of an evening clear and serene as its own surface, is perhaps, of 
all scenes, the. most congenial to our ideas of beauty in its strictest, and 
in its most general acceptation. 

Xay, though the scenery around should be the most wild and pictu- 
resque — I might almost say the most savage — every thing is so softened 
and melted together by the reflection of such a mirror, that the prevail- 
ing idea, even then, might possibly be that of beauty, so long as the 
water itself was chiefly regarded. On the other hand, all water of which 
the surface is broken, and the motion abrupt and irregular, as univer- 
sally accords with our ideas of the picturesque ; and whenever the word 
is mentioned, rapid and stony torrents and waterfalls, and waves dash- 
ing against rocks, are among the first objects that present themselves to 
our imagination. The two characters also approach and balance each 
other, as roughness or smoothness, as gentle undulation or abruptness 

Among trees, it is not the smooth young beech nor the fresh and 
tender ash, but the rugged old oak or knotty wych elm that are pictu- 
resque ; nor is it necessary they should be of great bulk — it is sufficient 
if they are rough, mossy, with a character of age, and with sudden 



variations in their forms. The limbs of huge trees shattered by light- 
ning or tempestuous winds, are in the highest degree picturesque ; but 
whatever is caused by those dreaded powers of destruction, must always 
have a tincture of the sublime. 

There is a simile in Ariosto in which the two characters are finely 
united : — 

" Quale stordito, e stupido aratore, 
Poi ch'e passato il fulmine, si leva 
Di la, dove Paltissimo fragore 
Presso agli uccisi buoi steso Taveva ; 
Che mira sensa fronde, et senza onore, 
II Pin che da lontan veder soleva, 
Tal si levo'l Pagano. 1 ' 

Milton seems to have thought of this simile, but the sublimity both of 
his subject and of his own genius, made him reject those picturesque 
circumstances, the variety of which, while it amuses, distracts the mind, 
and has kept it fixed on a few grand and awful images : — 

"As when heaven's fire 
Has scathed the forest oaks or mountain pines, 
With singed top their stately growth, though bare, 
Stands on the blasted heath. " 

If we next take a view of those animals that are called picturesque, 
the same qualities will be found to prevail. The ass is generally thought 
to be more picturesque than the horse ; and among horses, it is the 
wild and rough forester, or the worn-out cart-horse to which that title 
is applied. The sleek pampered steed, with his high arched crest and 
flowing mane, is frequently represented in painting ; but his prevailing 
character, whether there or in reality, is that of beauty. 

In pursuing the same mode of inquiry with respect to other animals, 
we find that the Pomeranian and the rough water-dog are more pic- 
turesque than the smooth spaniel or the greyhound, the shaggy goat 
than the sheep ; and these last are more so when their fleeces are ragged 
and worn away in parts, than when they are of equal thickness, or 
when they have lately been shorn. No animal, indeed, is so constantly 
introduced in landscape as the sheep, but that, as I observed before, 
does not prove superior picturesqueness ; and I imagine, that, besides 
their innocent character, so suited to pastoral scenes, of which they are 
the natural inhabitants, it arises from their being of a tint at once 
brilliant and mellow, which unites happily with all objects ; and also 
from their producing, when in groups, however slightly the detail may 



be expressed, broader masses of light and shadow than any other animal. 
The reverse of this is true with regard to deer ; their general effect in 
groups is comparatively meagre and spotty, hut their wild appearance, 
their lively action, their sudden bounds, and the intricacy of their 
branching horns, are circumstances in the highest degree picturesque. 

Wild and savage animals, like scenes of the same description, have 
generally a marked and picturesque character; and, as such scenes 
are less strongly impressed with that character when all is calm and 
serene than when the clouds are agitated and variously tossed about, 
so whatever may be the appearance of any animal in a tranquil state, 
it becomes more picturesque when suddenly altered by the influence of 
some violent emotion ; and it is curious to observe how all that disturbs 
inward calm produces a correspondent roughness without. The bristles 
of the chafed and foaming boar — the quills on the fretful porcupine — 
are suddenly raised by sudden emotion, and the angry lion exhibits the 
same picturesque marks of rage and fierceness, 

It is true, that in all animals where great strength and destructive 
fierceness are united, there is a mixture of grandeur, but the principles 
on which a greater or lesser degree of picturesqueness is founded may 
clearly be distinguished ; the lion, for instance, with his shaggy mane, 
is much more picturesque than the lioness, though she is equally an 
object of terror. 

The effect of smoothness or roughness in producing the beautiful or 
the picturesque, is again clearly exemplified in birds. Nothing is more 
truly consonant to our ideas of beauty, than their plumage when smooth 
and undisturbed, and when the eye glides over it without interruption ; 
nothing, on the other hand, has so picturesque an appearance as their 
feathers, when ruffled by any accidental circumstance, or by any sudden 
passion in the animal. When inflamed with anger or with desire, the 
first symptoms appear in their ruffled plumage ; the game cock, when 
he attacks his rival, raises the feathers of his neck, the purple pheasant 
his crest, and the peacock, when he feels the return of spring, shows 
his passion in the same manner — 

" And every feather shivers with delight/' 

The picturesque character in birds of prey arises from the angular 
form of their beak, the rough feathers on their legs, their crooked 
talons, their action and energy. All these circumstances are in the 
strongest degree apparent in the eagle ; but, from his size as well as 



courage, from the force of his beak and talons, formidable even to man, 
and likewise from all our earliest associations, the bird of Jove is always 
very much connected with ideas of grandeur. 

Many birds have received from nature the same picturesque appearance 
which in others happens only accidentally ; such are those whose heads 
and necks are adorned with ruffs, with crests, and with tufts of plumes, 
not lying smoothly over each other, as those of the back, but loosely 
and irregularly disposed. These are, perhaps, the most striking and 
attractive of all birds, as having that degree of roughness and irregu- 
larity which gives a spirit to smoothness and symmetry ; and where in 
them or in other objects these last qualities prevail, the result of the 
whole is justly called beautiful. 

In our own species, objects merely picturesque are to be found 
among the wandering tribes of gypsies and beggars ; who, in all the 
qualities which give them that character, bear a close analogy to the 
wild forester and the worn-out cart-horse, and again to old mills, 
hovels, and other inanimate objects of the same kind. More dignified 
characters, such as a Belisarius, or a Marios in age and exile,* have the 
same mixture of picturesqueness and of decayed grandeur, as the vener- 
able remains of the magnificence of past ages. 

If we ascend to the highest order of created beings, as painted by 
the grandest of our poets, they, in their state of glory and happiness, 
raise no ideas but those of beauty and sublimity ; the picturesque, as 
in earthly objects, only shows itself when they are in a state of ruin — 

" Nor appearM 
Less than archangel rtria'd, and the excess 
Of glory obscured" — 

when shadows have obscured their original brightness, and that uniform, 
though angelic expression of pure love and joy, has been destroyed by 
a variety of warring passions : 

" DarkenM so, yet shone 
Above them all the archangel ; but his face 
Deep scars of thunder had entrench 'd, and care 
Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows 
Of dauntless courage and considerate pride 
Waiting revenge •, cruel his eye, but cast 
Signs of remorse and passion." 

If from nature we turn to that art from which the expression itself 

* The noble picture of Salvator Rosa at Lord Townshend's, which in the print is 
called Belisarius, has been thought to be a Marius among the ruins of Carthage. 



is taken, \vc shall find all the principles of picturesqueness confirmed. 
Among painters, Salvator Rosa is one of the most remarkable for his 
picturesque effects: in no other master are seen such abrupt and 
rugged forms — such sudden deviations both in his figures and his 
landscapes; and the roughness and broken touches of his pencilling, 
admirably accord with the objects they characterise. 

Guido, on the other hand, was as eminent for beauty : in his 
celestial countenances are the happiest examples of gradual variation, 
of lines that melt and flow into each other; no sudden break, nothing 
that can disturb that pleasing languor, which the union of all that con- 
stitutes beauty impresses on the soul. The style of his hair is as 
smooth as its own character, and its effect in accompanying the face 
will allow ; the flow of his drapery — the sweetness and equality of his 
pencilling, and the silvery clearness and purity of his tints, are all 
examples of the justness of Mr. Burke's principles of beauty. But 
we may learn from the works even of this great master, how un- 
avoidably an attention to mere beauty and flow of outline, will lead 
towards sameness and insipidity. If this has happened to a painter of 
such high excellence, who so well knew the value of all that belongs 
to his art, and whose touch, when he painted a St. Peter or a St. 
Jerome, was as much admired for its spirited and characteristic rough- 
ness, as for its equality and smoothness in his angels and madonnas — 
what must be the case with men who have been tethered all their lives 
in a clump or a belt ? 

There is another instance of contrast between two eminent painters, 
Albano and Mola, which I cannot forbear mentioning, as it confirms 
the alliance between roughness and picturesqueness, and between 
smoothness and beauty ; and as it shows, in the latter case, the conse- 
quent danger of sameness. Of all the painters who have left behind 
them a high reputation, none, perhaps, was more uniformly smooth 
than Albano, or less often deviated into abruptness of any kind : none 
also have greater monotony of character ; but, from the extreme beauty 
and delicacy of his forms and his tints, and his exquisite finishing, few 
pictures are more generally captivating. Mola, the scholar of Albano, 
(and that circumstance makes it more singular,) is as remarkable for 
many of those opposite qualities which distinguish S. Rosa, though he 
has not the boldness and animation of that original genius. There is 
hardly any painter, whose pictures more immediately catch the eye of 
a connoisseur than those of Mola, or less attract the notice of a person 
unused to painting. Salvator has a savage grandeur, often in the 
highest degree sublime ; and sublimity, in any shape, will command 



attention : but Mola's scenes and figures are, for the most part, neither 
sublime nor beautiful ; they are purely picturesque. His touch is less 
rough than Salvator's ; his colouring has, in general, more richness and 
variety ; and his pictures seem to me the most perfect examples of the 
higher style of picturesqueness — infinitely removed from vulgar nature, 
but having neither the softness and delicacy of beauty, nor that grandeur 
of conception which produces the sublime. 

£A picturesque object may, in fact, be defined as that which, from 
the greater facilities which it possesses for readily and more effectually 
enabling an artist to display his art, is, as it were, a provocative to 
painting. If he has the time and the means for sketching it, he finds 
it impossible to resist the desire with which it fills him to carry it off 
on his canvass, because it is not only striking to him, but he feels that 
it must be equally striking nearly to all mankind, as being capable of 
touching those general chords of association which are most universally 
possessed by mankind, and which, therefore, naturally produce the 
most general interest. The examples which have been so liberally, 
and, if I may be permitted so to speak, so picturesquely brought 
forward by Price in this chapter, may all have their influence traced 
to this common source, whence that of beauty or sublimity may be 
likewise followed ; yet the distinction of the term will not be the less 
convenient, because it is thus found to spring from the same root with 
these other terms — for, in our description of natural scenery, language 
is often found to be so poor, that no word which conveys a tolerably 
well defined idea should ever be rejected. Since the word in question 
was coined, a new one has been more recently created — I mean the 
word sculpturesque, now very generally employed by artists and ama- 
teurs to signify such objects as are best fitted for displaying the powers 
of the sculptor, or which would most readily provoke him to the exer- 
cise of his art. — E.] 




Prom all that has been stated in the last chapter, picturesqueness ap- 
pears to hold a station between beauty and sublimity; and, on that 
account, perhaps, is more frequently, and more happily blended with 
them both, than they are with each other. It is, however, perfectly 
distinct from either. Beauty and picturesqueness are indeed evidently 
founded on very opposite qualities; the one on smoothness, the other 
on roughness ; the one on gradual, the other on sudden variation ; the 
one on ideas of youth and freshness, the other on those of age, and 
even of decay. 

But as most of the qualities of visible beauty are made known to us 
through the medium of another sense, the sight itself is hardly more to 
be considered than the touch, in regard to all those sensations which 
are excited by beautiful forms; and the distinction between the 
beautiful and the picturesque will, perhaps, be most strongly pointed 
out by means of the latter sense. I am aware that this is liable to a 
gross and obvious ridicule; but, for that reason, none but gross and 
commonplace minds will dwell upon it. 

Mr. Burke has observed, that " men are carried to the sex in gene- 
r;il. as it is the sex, and by the common law of nature; but they are 



attached to particulars by personal beauty ;" he adds, " I call beauty a 
social quality ; for where women and men, and not only they, but 
when other animals give us a sense of joy and pleasure in beholding 
them — and there are many that do so — they inspire us with senti- 
ments of tenderness and affection towards their persons ; we like to 
have them near us, and we enter willingly into a kind of relation with 

These sentiments of tenderness and affection, nature has taught us 
to exptress by caresses, by gentle pressure ; these are the endearments 
we make use of, where sex is totally out of the question, to beautiful 
children, to beautiful animals, and even to things inanimate ; and 
where the size and character, as in trees, buildings, &c, exclude any 
such relation, still something of the same difference of impression 
between them and rugged objects appears to subsist ; that impression, 
however, is diminished, as the size of any beautiful object is increased ; 
and as it approaches towards grandeur and magnificence, it recedes 
from loveliness. 

As the eye borrows many of its sensations from the touch, so that 
again seems to borrow others from the sight. Soft, fresh, and beautiful 
colours, though " not sensible to feeling as to sight," give us an incli- 
nation to try their effect on the touch ; whereas, if the colour be not 
beautiful, that inclination, I believe, is always diminished, and in 
objects merely picturesque, and void of all beauty, is rarely excited. 
I have read, indeed, in some fairy tale, of a country, where age and 
wrinkles were loved and caressed, and youth and freshness neglected ; 
but in real life, I fancy, the most picturesque old woman, however her 
admirer may ogle her on that account, is perfectly safe from his 

It has been observed in a former part, that symmetry, which 
perfectly accords with the beautiful, is in the same degree adverse to 
the picturesque ; and this circumstance forms a strongly marked dis- 
tinction between the two characters. The general symmetry which 
prevails in the forms of animals is obvious ; but as no precise standard of 
it in each species has been made or acknowledged, any slight deviation 
from what is most usual is scarcely attended to. In the human form, 
however, from our being more nearly interested in all that belongs to 
it, symmetry has been more accurately defined ; and, as far as human 
observation and selection can fix a standard for beauty, it has been 
fixed by the Grecian sculptors. That standard is acknowledged in all 

Sublime and Beautiful, p. 66. 



the most civilized parts of Europe: a near approach to it, makes the 
person to he called regularly beautiful ; a departure from it, whatever 
striking and attractive peculiarity it may bestow, is still a departure 
from that perfection of ideal beauty, so diligently sought after, and so 
nearly attained by those great artists, from the few precious remains of 
whose works, we have gained some idea of the refined art which raised 
I hem to such high eminence; for by their means we have learned to 
distinguish what is most exquisite and perfect, from the more ordinary 
degrees of excellence- 
There are several expressions in the language of a neighbouring 
people, of lively imagination, and distinguished gallantry and attention 
to the other sex, which seem to imply an uncertain idea of some cha- 
racter, which was not precisely beauty, but which, from whatever 
causes, produced striking and pleasing effects : such are une physio- 
nomie de fantaisie, and the well-known expression of un certain je ne 
mis quoi ; it is also common to say of a woman — que sans etre belle 
elle est piquante — a word, by the by, that in many points answers 
very exactly to picturesque. The amusing history of Roxalana and 
the Sultan, is also the history of the piquant, which is fully exempli- 
fied in her person and her manners : Marmontel certainly did not in- 
tend to give the petit nez retrousse as a beautiful feature ; but to 
show how much such a striking irregularity might accord and co-ope- 
rate with the same sort of irregularity in the character of the mind. 
The playful, unequal, coquetish Roxalana, full of sudden turns and 
caprices, is opposed to the beautiful, tender, and constant Elvira; and 
the effects of irritation, to those of softness and languor : the tendency 
of the qualities of beauty alone towards monotony, are no less happily 

Although there are no generally received standards with respect to 
animals, yet those who have been in the habit of breeding them and of 
attending to their forms, have fixed to themselves certain standards of 
perfection. Mr. Bakewell, like Phidias or Apelles, had probably 
formed in his mind an idea of perfection beyond what he had seen in 
nature ; and which, like them, though by a different process, he was 
constantly endeavouring to embody. It may be said, that this perfec- 
tion relates only to their disposition to produce fat upon the most 
profitable parts — a very grazier-like and material idea of beauty it 
must fairly be owned ; but still, if a standard of shape (from whatever 
cause) be acknowledged, and called beautiful, any departure from that 
settled correspondence and symmetry of parts, will certainly, within 
that jurisdiction, be considered as an irregularity in the form, and a 



consequent departure from beauty, however striking the object may be 
in its general appearance. More marked and sudden deviations from 
the general symmetry of animals, whether arising from particular con- 
formation, from accident, or from the effects of age or disease, often 
very strongly attract the painter's notice, and are recorded by him ; 
but they never can be thought to make the object more beautiful : 
many of these would, on the contrary, by most men be called deformi- 
ties, and not without reason. I shall hereafter have occasion to show 
the connection, as well as the distinction, that subsists between de- 
formity and picturesqueness. 

If we turn from animal to vegetable nature, many of the most 
beautiful flowers have a high degree of symmetry ; so much so, that 
their colours appear to be laid on after a regular and finished design : 
but beauty is so much the prevailing character of flowers, that no one 
seeks for any thing picturesque among them. In trees, on the other 
hand, every thing appears so loose and irregular, that symmetry seems 
out of the question ; yet still the same analogy subsists. Cowley has 
very accurately enumerated the chief qualities of beauty, in his descrip- 
tion of what he considers as one of the most beautiful of trees — the 
lime. He has not forgot symmetry in the catalogue of its charms, 
though it is probable that few readers will agree with him in admiring 
the degree or the style of it, which is displayed in the lime : but exact 
symmetry in all things was then as extravagantly in fashion, as it is 
now — perhaps too violently — in disgrace. 

Stat Pbilyra ; baud omnes formosior altera surgit 
Inter Ilamadrvades ; mollissima, Candida, laevis, 
Et viiidante coma, et bene olenti flore supeiba, 
Spargit odoratam late atque aqualiter umbram. 

If we take Candida for clear, as candidi fontes ; and viridante, as 
peculiarly fresh and verdant, we have every quality of beauty separately 
considered. A beautiful tree, considered in point of form only, must 
have a certain correspondence of parts, and a comparative regularity 
and proportion j whereas inequality and irregularity alone will give to 
a tree a picturesque appearance, more especially if the effects of age 
and decay, as well as of accident are conspicuous : when, for instance, 
some of the limbs are shattered, and the broken stump remains in the 
void space ; when others, half twisted round by winds, hang down- 
wards ; while others again shoot in an opposite direction, and perhaps 
some large bough projects sideways from below the stag-headed top, 
and then as suddenly turns upwards, and rises above it. The general 


proportion of such trees, whether tall or short, thick or slender, is not 
material to their character six picturesque ohjects ; but where beauty, 
elegance, and gracefulness are concerned, a short thick proportion will 
not give an idea of those qualities. There certainly are a great variety 
of pleasing forms and proportions in trees, and different men have 
different predilections, just as they have with respect to their own 
species ; but I never knew any person, who, if he observed at all, was 
not struck with the gracefulness and elegance of a tree, whose propor- 
tion was rather tall, whose stem had an easy sweep, but which re- 
turned again in such a manner, that the whole appeared completely 
poised and balanced, and whose boughs were in some degree pendent, 
but towards their extremities made a gentle curve upwards : if to such 
a form you add fresh and tender foliage and bark, you have every 
quality assigned to beauty. 

In the last chapter I described the process by which a beautiful 
artificial object becomes picturescpie : I will now show the similar effect 
of the same kind of process in natural objects ; and, more fully to illus- 
trate the subject, will compare at the same moment the effect of that 
process on animate and inanimate objects. It cannot be said that 
there is much general analogy between a tree and a human figure ; but 
there is a great deal in the particular qualities which make them either 
beautiful or picturesque. Almost all the qualities of beauty, as it 
might naturally be expected, belong to youth ; and, among them all, 
none is more consonant to our ideas of beauty, or gives so general an 
impression of it as freshness ; — without it, the most perfect form wants 
its most precious finish ; wherever it begins to depart, wherever marks 
of age, or of unhealthiness appear, though other effects, other sym- 
pathies, other characters may arise, there must be a diminution of 
beauty. Freshness, which equally belongs to vegetable and animal 
beauty, is one of the most striking and attractive qualities in the 
general appearance of a beautiful object ; whether of a tree in its most 
flourishing state, or of a human figure in its highest perfection. In 
cither, the smallest diminution of that quality, from age or disease, is a 
manifest diminution of beauty ; for, as it was remarked by a writer of 
the highest eminence, venustas et pulchritudo corporis secerni non potest 
,i vedetudine* Besides the relation, which in point of freshness in the 
genera] appearance, a beautiful plant or a beautiful person bear to each 
other, there is likewise a correspondence in particular parts — the 
luxuriancy of foliage, answers to that of hair ; the delicate smoothness 

* Cicero de OfHciis, Lib. 1. 



of bark, to that of the skin ; and the clear, even, and tender colour of 
it, to that of the complexion. There is also, in the bark and the skin, 
though much more sensibly in the latter, another beauty arising from a 
look of softness and suppleness, so opposite to the hard and dry appear- 
ance, which, as well as roughness, is brought on by age ; and which 
peculiar softness — arising in this case from the free circulation of juices 
to every part, and in contra-distinction to what is dry, though yielding 
to pressure — is well expressed by the Greek word vyoorqg; a word whose 
meaning I shall have occasion to dwell more fully upon hereafter.* 
The earliest, and most perceptible, attacks of time, are made on the 
bark, and on the skin ; which at first, however, merely lose their 
evenness of surface, and perfect clearness of colour : by degrees, the 
lines grow stronger in each ; the tint more dingy ; often unequal and 
in spots ; and, in proportion as either trees or men advance towards 
decay, the regular progress of time, and often the effects of accident, 
occasion great and partial changes in their forms. In trees, the various 
hollows and inequalities which are produced by some parts failing, 
and others in consequence falling in ; from accidental marks and 
protuberances, and from other circumstances which a long course 
of years gives rise to, are obvious ; and many correspondent changes 
from similar causes in the human form, are no less obvious. By such 
changes, that nice symmetry and correspondence of parts so essential 
to beauty, is in both destroyed ; in both, the hand of time roughens the 
surface, and traces still deeper furrows ; a few leaves, a few hairs, arc 
thinly scattered on their summits ; that light, airy, aspiring look of 
youth is gone, and both seem shrunk and tottering, and ready to fall 
with the next blast. 

Such is the change from beauty — and to what ? surely not to a higher, 
or an equal degree, or to a different style of beauty. No — nor to any 
thing that resembles it : and yet, that both these objects, even in this 
last state, have often strong attractions for painters — their works afford 
sufficient testimony ; that they are called picturesque — the general 
application of the term to such objects, makes equally clear ; and that 
they totally differ from what is beautiful — the common feelings of 
mankind no less convincingly prove. One misapprehension I would 
wish to guard against. I do not mean to infer, from the instances I 
have given, that an object, to be picturesque, must be old and decayed ; 
but that the most beautiful objects will become so from the effects of 
age and decay ; and I believe it is equally true, that those which are 

* In the Appen dix. 



naturally of a strongly marked and peculiar character, are likely to 
become still more picturesque by the process I have mentioned. 

I have now very fully stated the principal circumstances by which 
the picturesque is separated from the beautiful. It is equally distinct 
from the sublime ; for, though there are some qualities common to them 
both, yet they differ in many essential points, and proceed from very 
different causes. In the first place, greatness of dimension is a power- 
ful cause Of the sublime. I would by no means lay too much stress on 
greatness of dimension, but what Mr. Burke has observed with regard 
to buildings is true of many natural objects, such as rocks, cascades, 
&c, where the scale is too diminutive, no greatness of manner will give 
them grandeur. The picturesque has no connection with dimension of 
any kind, and is as often found in the smallest as in the largest objects. 
The sublime, being founded on principles of awe and terror, never 
descends to any thing light or playful ; the picturesque, whose charac- 
teristics are intricacy and variety, is equally adapted to the grandest 
and to the gayest scenery. Infinity is one of the most efficient causes 
of the sublime : the boundless ocean, for that reason, inspires awful 
sensations ; to give it picturesqueness you must destroy that cause of its 
sublimity, for it is on the shape and disposition of its boundaries that 
the picturesque must in great measure depend. 

Uniformity, which is so great an enemy to the picturesque, is not 
only compatible with the sublime, but often the cause of it. That 
general, equal gloom which is spread over all nature before a storm, 
with the stillness, so nobly described by Shakspeare, is in the highest 
degree sublime — 

" And as we often see, against a storm, 
A silence in the heavens, the wrack stand still, 
The bold winds speechless, and the orb itself 
As hush as death, — anon the dreadful thunder 
Does rend the region." 

The picturesque requires greater variety, and does not show itself till 
the dreadful thunder has rent the region, has tossed the clouds into a 
thousand towering forms, and opened, as it were, the recesses of the 
sky. A blaze of light unmixed with shade, on the same principles, 
tends to the sublime only. Milton has placed light, in its most glorious 
brightness, as an inaccessible barrier round the throne of the Almighty — 

" For God is light, 
And never but in unapproached light- 
Dwelt from eternity." 

And such is the power he has given even to its diminished splendour — 



" That the brightest seraphim 
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes. 1 ' 

In one place, indeed, he has introduced very picturesque circum- 
stances in his sublime representation of the Deity, but it is of the Deity 
in wrath ; it is when, from the weakness and narrowness of our con- 
ceptions, we give the names and the effects of our passions to the all- 
perfect Creator : — 

" And clouds began 
To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll 
In dusky wreaths reluctant flames, the sign 
Of wrath awaked." 

In general, however, where the glory, power, or majesty of God are 
represented, he has avoided that variety of form and of colouring which 
might take off from simple and uniform grandeur, and has encompassed 
the divine essence with unapproached light, or with the majesty of 

Again, if we descend to earth, a perpendicular rock, of vast bulk and 
height, though bare and unbroken, or a deep chasm, under the same 
circumstances, are objects which produce awful sensations ; but without 
some variety and intricacy, either in themselves or their accompani- 
ments, they will not be picturesque. Lastly, a most essential difference 
between the two characters is, that the sublime, by its solemnity, takes 
off from the loveliness of beauty, whereas the picturesque renders it 
more captivating. This last difference is happily pointed out and 
illustrated in the most ingenious and pleasing of all fictions, that of 
Venus' Cestus. Juno, however beautiful, had no captivating charms till 
she had put on the magic girdle — in other words, till she had exchanged 
her stately dignity for playfulness and coquetry. 

According to Mr. Burke,* the passion caused by the great and sub- 
lime in nature, when those causes operate most powerfully, is astonish- 
ment, and astonishment is that state of the soul in which all its motions 
are suspended with some degree of horror ; the sublime, also, being 
founded on ideas of pain and terror, like them operates by stretching 
the fibres beyond their natural tone. The passion excited by beauty 
is love and complacency ; it acts by relaxing the fibres somewhat below 
their natural tone, and this is accompanied by an inward sense of melt- 
ing and languor. I have heard this part of Mr. Burke's book criticised, 
on a supposition that pleasure is more generally produced from the 
fibres being stimulated than from their being relaxed. To me it ap- 

* Sublime and Beautiful, Part II. Sec 1. 



pears, that Mr. Burke is right with respect to that pleasure which is 
the effect of beauty, of whatever has an analogy to beauty, according 
to the principles he has laid down. 

If we examine our feelings on a warm genial day, in a spot full of 
the softest beauties of nature, the fragrance of spring breathing around 
us — pleasure then seems to be our natural state, to be received, not 
sought after; it is the happiness of existing to sensations of delight 
only — we are unwilling to move, almost to think, and desire only to 
feel, to enjoy. In pursuing the same train of ideas, I may add, that 
the effect of the picturesque is curiosity ; an effect which, though less 
splendid and powerful, has a more general influence. Those who have 
felt the excitement produced by the intricacies of wild romantic moun- 
tainous scenes, can tell how curiosity, while it prompts us to scale every 
rocky promontory, to explore every new recess, by its active agency 
keeps the fibres to their full tone ; and thus picturesqueness, when 
mixed with either of the other characters, corrects the languor of beauty, 
or the tension of sublimity. But as the nature of every corrective must 
be to take off from the peculiar effect of what it is to correct, so does 
the picturesque when united to either of the others. It is the coquetry 
of nature — it makes beauty more amusing, more varied, more playful, 
but also 

" Less winning soft, less amiably mild." 

Again, by its variety, its intricacy, its partial concealments, it excites 
that active curiosity which gives play to the mind, loosening those iron 
bonds with which astonishment chains up its faculties. This seems to 
be perfectly applicable to tragi-comedy, and is at once its apology and 
condemnation. Whatever relieves the mind from a strong impression, 
of course weakens that impression. 

Where characters, however distinct in their nature, are perpetually 
mixed together in such various degrees and manners, it is not always 
easy to draw the exact line of separation ; I think, however, we may 
conclude, that where an object, or a set of objects, are without smooth- 
ness or grandeur, but from their intricacy, their sudden and irregular 
deviations, their variety of forms, tints, and lights and shadows, are 
interesting to a cultivated eye, they are simply picturesque. Such, for 
instance, are the rough banks that often enclose a by-road or a hollow 
lane : imagine the size of these banks and the space between them to 
be increased, till the lane becomes a deep dell, the coves, large caverns, 
the peeping stones, hanging rocks, so that the whole may impress an 
idea of awe and grandeur — the sublime will then be mixed with the 



picturesque, though the scale only, not the style of the scenery would 
be changed. On the other hand, if parts of the banks were smooth 
and gently sloping, or if in the middle space the turf were soft and 
close bitten, or if a gentle stream passed between them, whose clear, 
unbroken surface reflected all their varieties — the beautiful and the 
picturesque, by means of that softness and smoothness, would then be 

I may here observe, that as softness is become a risible quality as well 
as smoothness, so also, from the same kind of sympathy, it is a principle 
of beauty in many visible objects ; but as the hardest bodies are those 
which receive the highest polish, and consequently the highest degree 
of smoothness, there must be a number of objects in which smoothness 
and softness are for that reason incompatible. The one, however, is 
not unfrequently mistaken for the other, and I have more than once 
heard pictures, which were so smoothly finished that they looked like 
ivory, commended for their softness. 

The skin of a delicate woman is an example of softness and smooth- 
ness united ; but if by art a higher polish be given to the skin, the 
softness, and in that case I may add the beauty, is destroyed. Fur, 
moss, hair, wool, &c. are comparatively rough, but they are soft, and 
yield to pressure, and therefore take off from the appearance of hard- 
ness, and also of edginess. A stone or rock, when polished by water, 
is smoother, but less soft than when covered with moss ; and upon this 
principle the wooded banks of a river have often a softer general effect 
than the bare shaven border of a canal. There is the same difference 
between the grass of a pleasure-ground mowed to the quick, and that 
of a fresh meadow ; and it frequently happens, that continual mowing 
destroys the verdure as well as the softness. So much does excessive 
attachment to one principle destroy its own ends. 

Before I end this chapter, I wish to say a few words with respect to 
my adoption of Mr. Burke's doctrine. It has been asserted that I have 
pre-supposed our ideas of the sublime and beautiful to be clearly settled,* 
whereas the least attention to what I have written would have shown 
the contrary. As far as my own opinion is concerned, I certainly am 
convinced of the general truth and accuracy of Mr. Burke's system, for 
it is the foundation of my own ; but I must be very ignorant of human 
nature, to suppose " our ideas clearly settled " on any question of that 
kind. I therefore have always spoken cautiously, and even doubtingly, 
to avoid the imputation of judging for others; I have said, ?/ we agree 

Essay on Design in Gardening, by Mr. George Mason, pag-^ 201. 



with Mr. Burke, according to Mr. Burke; and in the next chapter to 
this, I have stated that Mr. Burke has done a great deal towards settling 
the vague and contradictory ideas, &c. These passages so very plainly 
show how little I presumed to suppose our ideas were clearly settled, 
thai no person who had read the book with any degree of attention 
could have made such a remark ; and I must say, that whoever does 
venture to criticise what he has not considered, is much more his own 
enemy than the author's. 

By way of convincing his readers that Mr. Burke's ideas of the 
sublime are unworthy of being attended to, Mr. G. Mason has the 
following remark, which I have taken care to copy very exactly : — 
" The majority of thinking and learned men whom it has been my lot 
to converse with on such subjects, are as well persuaded of terrors 
being the cause of sublime, as that Tenterden steeple is of Goodwin 
sands." As Mr. Mason seems very conversant with the classics, as 
well as with English authors, and as the sublime in poetry has been 
discussed by writers of high authority, and the sublimity of many 
passages very generally acknowledged, I could wish that he and his 
learned friends would take the trouble of examining such passages in 
Homer, Virgil, Shakspeare, Milton, and all the poets who are most 
eminent for their sublimity; and should they find, as surely they 
will, that almost all of them are founded upon terror, or on those 
modifications of it which Mr. Burke has so admirably pointed out, they 
may, perhaps, be inclined to speak somewhat less contemptuously of 
his researches. They may even be led to reflect, what must have been 
the depth and penetration of that man's mind, who, scarcely arrived at 
manhood, clearly saw how one great principle, an acknowledged cause 
of the sublime in poetry, was likewise the most powerful cause of sub- 
limity in all objects whatsoever ; pursued it through all the works of 
art and of nature, and explained, illustrated, and adorned his discovery, 
with that ingenuity, and that brilliancy of language, in which he stands 

A number of sublime passages in poetry will of course present them- 
selves to a person so well read in the classics as Mr. Mason, but I will 
beg leave to remind him, and those who reject Mr. Burke's doctrine, 
of a few instances, in which if terror be not the cause of the sublime, 
I have no idea of any cause of any effect. It is natural to begin by 
the great father of all poetry, and by a passage which Longinus has 
particularly dwelt upon : it is that celebrated one in the Iliad,* where 

Iliad, b. xx., I. 56. 



Homer has described Jupiter thundering above, Neptune shaking the 
earth beneath, and Pluto starting from his throne with terror, lest his 
secret and dreary abodes should be burst open to the day. From this 
short exposition the reader may judge what is the principle on which 
the sublimity of this passage is founded. 

The most sublime passage, according to my idea, in Virgil, or per- 
haps in any other poet, is that magnificent personification of a thunder 

" Ipse Pater, media nimhorum in nocte, corusca 
Fulmina molitur dextra, quo maxima motu 
Terra tremit, fugere ferae, et mortalia corda 
Per gentes humilis stravit pavor — Ille flagranti 
Aut Atho aut Rhodopen, aut alta Ceraunia telo 

Divest these two passages of terror, what remains ? In this last 
particularly, the sublime opposition between the cause and the effect of 
terror, more strongly than in any other, illustrates the principle. And 
I may here observe, that one circumstance which gives peculiar gran- 
deur to personifications, is the attributing of natural events to the im- 
mediate action of some angry and powerful agent. 

" Ipse Pater media, &c. 
Neplunus muros saevoque emota tridente 
Fundamenta quatit." 

Whenever Dante is mentioned, the inscription over the gates of hell, 
and the Conte Ugolino, are among the first things which occur. 
Milton's Paradise Lost is wrought up to a higher pitch of awful terror 
than any other poem ; to a mind full of poetical fire, he added the most 
studied attention to effect ; and I think there is a singular instance of 
that attention, and of the use he made of terror, in one of his most 
famous similes. 

" As when the sun, new risen, 
Looks through the horizontal misty air, 
Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon 
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds 
On half the nations." 

The circumstances are perfectly applicable to the fallen archangel ; 
but Milton possibly felt that the sun himself, when shorn of his beams 
and in eclipse, was a less magnificent object than when in full splendour, 
and therefore added that dignified image of terror, 

" And with fear of change 
Perplexes monarchs." 


It might even be conjectured, that he had literally added that last 
image ; for the pause (which no poet took more pains to vary,) is the 
same as in the preceding line, and the half verso which follows, 
a Darken'd so, yet shone," 

would do equally well, in point of metre and of sense, after 
" On half the nations." 

From Shakspeare also, a number of detached passages might be 
quoted, to prove what surely needs no additional argument ; but that 
most original creator, and most accurate observer, of whom no English- 
man can speak without enthusiasm, has furnished a more ample proof 
of the sublime effect of unremitting terror. Let those who have read, 
or seen his tragedies, consider which among them all is most strikingly 
sublime — which of them most powerfully seizes on the imagination, and 
rivets the attention — I believe almost every voice will give it for Mac- 
beth. In that all is terror ; and therefore either Aristotle, Longinus, 
Shakspeare, and Burke, or Mr. G. Mason, and his learned friends, have 
been totally wrong in their ideas of the sublime, and of its causes. 

That the same principle prevails in all natural scenery, has been so 
fully and clearly explained by Mr. Burke, that any further arguments 
seem superfluous; yet, as it sometimes happens that wdiat is placed in a 
different, though less striking light, may chance to make an impression 
on particular minds, I will mention a few things which have occurred 
to me. I am persuaded that it would be difficult to conceive any set of 
objects, to which, however grand in themselves, an addition of terror 
would not give a higher degree of sublimity ; and surely that must be 
a cause, and a principal cause, the increase of which increases the effect 
— the absence of which, weakens, or destroys it. The sea is at all times 
a grand object ; need I say how much that grandeur is increased by the 
violence of another element, and again, by thunder and lightning ? 
Why are rocks and precipices more sublime, when the tide dashes at 
the foot of them, forbidding all access, or cutting off all retreat, than 
when we can with ease approach, or retire from them ? How is it that 
Shakspeare has heightened the sublimity of Dover Cliff, so much 
beyond what the real scene exhibits ? by terror ; he has placed terror 
above on the brink of the abyss ; in the middle where 

" Half way down 
Hangs one who gathers samphire — dreadful trade ! " 

And even on the beach below, drawing an idea of terror from the 
comparative deficiency of one sense : 



" The murmuring surge 
That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes, 
Cannot be heard so high ; — I '11 look no more 
Le&t my brain turn." 

The nearer any grand or terrible objects in nature press upon the 
mind, (provided that mind is able to contemplate them with awe, but 
without abject fear,) the more sublime will be their effects. The most 
savage rocks, precipices, and cataracts, as they keep their stations, are 
only awful ; but should an earthquake shake their foundations, and 
open a new gulf beneath the cataract — he, who removed from imme- 
diate danger, could dare at such a moment to gaze on such a spectacle, 
would surely have sensations of a much higher kind, than those which 
were impressed upon him when all was still and unmoved. 




Of the three characters, two only are in any degree subject to the 
improver ; to create the sublime is above our contracted powers, though 
we may sometimes heighten, and at all times lower its effects by art. 
It is, therefore, on a proper attention to the beautiful and the pictu- 
resque, that the art of improving real landscapes must depend. 

[[There may be instances, indeed, in which the sublime may, in one 
sense, be created, so far at least as any one locality may be considered 
— I mean by the bringing into view some grand object, by the removal 
of some obstacle of fence, of ground, or of wood, which may exclude it 
from observation. I know a case, where a friend of mine by the 
judicious removal of ground, has opened up a view of a grand expansive 
branch of the ocean so as to bring it, as it were, under the windows of 
his mansion, though it is, in reality, several miles off. The view of sub- 
lime rocks, or mountains, or of magnificent waterfalls, or rivers, or lakes, 
is often lost for want of a little boldness in the sacrifice of a few trees. 
I Jut no part of the art of landscape gardening requires greater caution, or 
more judgment than, this, for rashness or ignorance may, perhaps, in a 
few hours, do such damage as ages may be required to repair. As for 
any attempt actually to create a sublime object, that would indeed be 
as absurd and presumptuous, as it would be certain of failure. — E.J 



As beauty is the most pleasing of all ideas to the human mind, it is 
very natural that it should be most sought after, and that the name 
should have been applied to every species of excellence. Mr. Burke 
has done a great deal towards settling the vague and contradictory 
ideas which were entertained on that subject, by investigating its prin- 
cipal causes and effects ; but as the best things are often perverted to 
the worst purposes, so his admirable treatise has, perhaps, been one 
cause of the insipidity which has prevailed under the name of improve- 
ment. Few places have any claim to sublimity, and where nature has 
not given them that character, art is ineffectual ; beauty, therefore, is 
the great object, and improvers have learned, from the highest authority, 
that two of its principal causes are smoothness, and gradual variation ; 
these qualities are in themselves very seducing, but they are still more 
so, when applied to the surface of ground, from its being in every 
man's power to produce them ; it requires neither taste, nor invention, 
but merely the mechanical hand and eye of many a common labourer ; 
and he who can make a nice asparagus bed, has one of the most essential 
qualifications of an improver, and may soon learn the whole mystery of 
slopes and hanging levels. 

If the principles of the beautiful, according to Mr. Burke, and those 
of the picturesque according to my ideas, be just, it seldom happens 
that those two qualities are perfectly unmixed ; and I believe, it is for 
want of observing how nature has blended them, and from attempting 
to make objects beautiful by dint of smoothness and flowing lines, that 
so much insipidity has arisen. 

[It has arisen, and ever will arise from any attempt to produce 
beauty by the mere employment of any one of its qualities only, when, 
to produce its perfection, it is necessary to select and combine them, 
and this too in such a manner as that the associations produced by them 
shall not be incongruous, but be perfectly in harmony with the nature 
and character of the object. As the composition of beauty, therefore, 
must be varied in each individual case, it would be vain to lay down a 
general rule for compounding it, as one would give a receipt for making 
a particular pudding. I conceive that it is in the tact, and discrimina- 
tion, and judgment displayed in the selection, and composition of objects 
to produce beauty, that the faculty of what is called good taste consists. 
The smallest reflection upon the examples which Sir Uvedale Price 
brings forward in the few following paragraphs of this Chapter, will 
at once show that something more than mere smoothness, at least, is 
required to constitute beauty. Nay, he proves that a due proportion of 
roughness is equally essential ; and I conceive that it would be equally 



easy to prove, that all the different ingredients proposed by others, 
may, in certain objects, be found individually operating in combination 
with others towards the composition of beauty. — E.] 

The most enchanting object the eye of man can behold — that which 
immediately presents itself to his imagination when beauty is mentioned 
— that, in comparison of which all other beauty appears tasteless and 
uninteresting — is the face of a beautiful woman ; and there, where 
nature has fixed the throne of beauty, the very seat of its empire, observe 
how she has guarded it, in her most perfect models, from its two dan- 
gerous foes, insipidity and monotony. 

The eye-brows, and the eye-lashes, by their projecting shade over 
the transparent surface of the eye, and above all the hair, by its com- 
parative roughness and its partial concealments, accompany and relieve 
the softness, clearness, and smoothness of all the rest ; where the hair 
has no natural roughness, it is often artificially curled and crisped, and 
it cannot be supposed that both sexes have been so often mistaken in 
what would best become them. As the general surface of a beautiful 
face is soft and smooth, its general form consists of lines that insensibly 
l licit into each other ; yet if we may judge from those remains of ancient 
arts, which are considered as models of beauty, the Grecian sculptors 
were of opinion that a line nearly straight of the nose and forehead was 
required, to give a zest to all the other waving lines of the face. 

Flowers are the most delicate and beautiful of all inanimate objects ; 
but their queen the rose, grows on a rough thorny bush with jagged 
leaves. The "moss rose has the addition of a rough hairy fringe, which 
almost makes a part of the flower itself. The arbutus, with its fruit, 
its pendent flowers, and rich glossy foliage, is perhaps the most beauti- 
ful of all the hardier evergreen shrubs ; but the bark of it is rugged, 
and the leaves, which like those of the rose, are sawed at the edges, 
have those edges pointed upwards, and clustering in spikes ; and it 
may possibly be from that circumstance, and from the boughs having 
the same upright tendency, that Virgil calls it arbutus korrida, or, 
as it stands in some manuscripts, horrens. Among the foreign oaks, 
maples, &c. those are particularly esteemed, the leaves of which (ac- 
cording to a common, though perhaps contradictory phrase) are beauti- 
fy jagged. 

The oriental plane has always been reckoned a tree of the greatest 
beauty ; Xerxes' passion for one of them is well known, as also the 
high estimation they were held in by the Greeks and Romans. The 
surface of their leaves is smooth and glossy, and of a bright pleasant 
green ; but they are so deeply indented, and so full of sharp angles, that 



the tree itself is often distinguished by the name of the true jagged 
oriental plane. 

The vine leaf has, in all respects, a strong resemblance to the leaf 
of the plane ; and that extreme richness of effect, which every body 
must be struck with in them both, is greatly owing to those sharp an- 
gles, to those sudden variations, so contrary to the idea of beauty when 
considered by itself. The leaf of the Burgundy vine is rough, and its 
inferiority, in point of beauty, to the smooth-leaved vines, is, I think, 
very apparent, and clearly owing to that circumstance. On the other 
hand, a cluster of fine grapes, in point of form, tint, and light and 
shadow, is a specimen of unmixed beauty ; and the vine with its fruit, 
may be cited as one of the most striking instances of the union of the 
two characters, in which, however, that of beauty infinitely prevails ; 
and who will venture to assert, that the charm of the whole would be 
greater, by separating them — by taking off all the angles, and sharp 
points, and making the outline of the leaves as round and flowing as 
that of the fruit ? The effect of these jagged points and angles is more 
strongly marked in sculpture — especially in vases of metal — where the 
vine leaf, if imprudently handled, would at least prove that sharpness 
is very contrary to the beautiful in feeling ; and the analogy between 
the two senses is surely very just. It may also be remarked, that in 
all such works sharpness of execution is a term of high praise. 

I must here observe (and I must beg to call the readers attention to 
w hat, in my idea, throws a strong light on the whole of the subject,) that 
almost all ornaments are rough, and most of them sharp, which is a mode 
of roughness ; and, considered analogically, the most contrary to beauty 
of any mode. But as the ornaments are rough, so the ground is gene- 
rally smooth ; which shows, that though smoothness be the most essential 
quality of beauty, without which it can scarcely exist — yet that rough- 
ness, in its different modes and degrees, is the ornament, the fringe of 
beauty, that which gives it life and spirit, and preserves it from baldness 
and insipidity. 

A moment's consideration, indeed, will show us, that the obvious, the 
only process in ornamenting any smooth surface, independently of colour, 
must be that of making it less smooth, that is, comparatively rough : 
there must be different degrees of roughness, of sharpness, of projections ; 
and this is the character of those ornaments that have been admired for 
ages. The column is smooth ; the ornamental part, the capital, is rough : 
the facing of a building smooth, the frize and cornice rough and 
suddenly projecting : it is so in vases, in embroidery, in every thing that 
admits of ornament ; and as ornament is the most prominent and striking 


part of a beautiful whole, it is frequently taken for the most essential 
part, and obtains the first place in descriptions. Thus Virgil in speaking 
of a part of dress highly ornamented says, 

" Pallam gemmis auroque riyentem.'''' 

And Dryden in the same spirit, when describing the cup that contained 
the heart of Guiscard, calls it, 

" A goblet rich with gems, and rouyh with gold. " 

A plain stone building, may not only be very beautiful, but by many 
persons be thought peculiarly so from its simplicity ; but were an 
architect to decorate the shafts, as well as the capitals of his columns, 
and all the smooth stone work of his house or temple, there are few 
people who would not be sensible of the difference between a beautiful 
building, and one richly ornamented. This, in my mind, is the spirit 
of that famous reproof of Apelles (among all the painters of antiquity 
the most renowned for beauty) to one of his scholars who was loading 
a Helen with ornaments ; " Young man," said he, " not being able to 
paint her beautiful, you have made her rich." 

All that has just been said on the effect, which, in objects of sight, a 
due proportion of roughness and sharpness gives to smoothness, as like- 
wise on the danger of making these two qualities too predominant, may, 
I think, be very aptly illustrated by means of another sense. Discords 
in music, which are analogous to sharp and angular objects of sight, are 
introduced by the most judicious composers, in their accompaniments to 
the sweetest and most flowing melodies, in order to relieve the ear from 
that languor and weariness, which long continued smoothness always 
brings on. But, on the other hand, should a composer, from too great a 
fondness for discords and extraneous modulations, neglect the flow and 
smoothness of melody, or should he smother a sweet and simple air 
beneath a load even of the richest harmony, he would resemble an 
architect, who, from a false notion of the picturesque, should destroy all 
repose and continuity in his designs, by the number of breaks and 
projections, or should try to improve some elegant and simple building, 
by loading it with a profusion of ornaments. The most beautiful and 
melodious of all sounds, that of the human voice in its highest perfec- 
tion, appears to the greatest advantage when there is some degree of 
sharpness in the instrument which accompanies it ; as in the harp, the 
violin, or the harpsichord : the flute, and even the organ have too much 
of the same quality of sound ; they give no relief to the voice ; it is like 
accompanying smooth water with smooth banks ; yet will any one say, 



that separately considered, the sound of the harp or the violin is as beau- 
tiful as that of a fine human voice, or that they ought to be classed 
together ? or that discords are as beautiful as concords, or that both 
are beautiful, because when they are mixed with judgment, the whole 
is more delightful ? Does not this show that what is very justly called 
beautiful, from the essential qualities of beauty being predominant, is 
frequently, nay generally composite ; and that we act against the con- 
stant practice of nature and of judicious art, when we endeavour to make 
objects more beautiful, by depriving them of what gives beauty some of 
its most powerful attractions ? 

£But why does the human voice affect us more powerfully than the 
sound of a musical instrument \ Is it because its tones are finer, more 
delicate, or more powerful ? I suspect not. The most magnificent human 
voices can be excelled in all these particulars by certain instruments, 
when played on by the best performers. The greater influence which 
the human voice possesses over us, arises from the circumstance of its 
being the human voice. For, as the influence which instrumental music 
has over us, arises from the association which its tones awaken with the 
feelings and passions of human nature, so it follows, that the human 
voice, as being more immediately connected with these, must be in 
itself a superior vehicle for their expression. It has also the immense 
advantage of being able to give utterance to those sentiments of poetry, 
with which the notes have been harmoniously associated. In support 
of this view, the experience of every one must bear witness to the fact, 
that it is by no means always the finest voice, considering it as an 
instrument, that most deeply touches the human heart, and that feeling 
and powerful expression, will always awaken more chords of sympathy, 
and more general emotions in the minds of the auditors, than the finest 
toned voices can possibly do without it. Nay, the very power which 
instrumental music possesses over us, depends entirely on the extent to 
which this mental feeling and expression can be imitated. — E.] 




The various and striking lights in which Mr. Burke has placed the al- 
liance between smoothness and beauty in objects of sight, and the very 
close and convincing arguments he has drawn by analogy from the other 
senses, I should have supposed would have left but little doubt on the 
subject. As I find, however, that the position has been questioned by 
persons to whose opinions much respect is due, I shall venture, not- 
withstanding the copious and masterly manner in which the subject has 
been treated, to mix a few observations on smoothness with some farther 
remarks I have to offer on the opposite quality of roughness. I am in- 
deed highly interested in the question, for if this principle of Mr. Burke's 
should be false — if smoothness should not be an essential quality of 
beauty — if objects be as generally beautiful where roughness, as where 
smoothness prevails — and, lastly, if, as many have supposed, all that 
strongly attracts and captivates the eye be included in the sublime and 
the beautiful, my distinction, of course, must fall to the ground. I can- 
not help flattering myself, however, that the having considered and 
compared the three characters together, has thrown a reciprocal light on 
each ; and that the picturesque fills up a vacancy between the sublime 



and the beautiful, and accounts for the pleasure we receive from many 
objects, on principles distinct from them both ; which objects should 
therefore be placed in a separate class. 

In the last chapter I have endeavoured to show how nature has 
blended a certain portion of the qualities of the picturesque, of rough- 
ness, sharpness, &c. in many objects generally allowed to be beautiful, 
and that the same mixture has been adopted in many of the most ap- 
proved works of art ; and that although smoothness be the groundwork 
of beauty, yet that roughness is its fringe and ornament, and that which 
preserves it from insipidity. I shall now try to point out, what, ac- 
cording to my notions, is the most usual effect of the two qualities, and 
in what manner roughness and smoothness act upon the organs and upon 
the mind. 

One principal charm of smoothness, whether in a literal or a meta- 
phorical sense, is, that it conveys the idea of repose ; roughness, on the 
contrary, conveys that of irritation, but at the same time of animation, 
spirit, and variety. This is very strongly exemplified in the sense of 
hearing. Smooth and flowing strains in music, give a pleasing and volup- 
tuous repose to the ear and the mind ; an effect which is beautifully 
described in the well-known lines of Dry den's ode, 

"Softly sweet in Lvdian measures, 
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures. , ■' 

On the other hand, the character of martial music, which rouses and 
animates the soul, is finely characterised by 

" The spirit-stirring drum, th 1 ear-piercing fife." 

And the notes of the trumpet, which rends the air with its harsh and 
sudden blasts, bears no small degree of analogy to all that is rude, 
broken, and abrupt, in visible objects. 

That in speaking, a smooth and even tone of voice indicates inward 
calm and repose, and sharp, broken, irregular accents irritation, is too 
obvious to be dwelt upon. 

In the sense of seeing, with which we are more immediately concerned, 
the position may be shortly exemplified in the instances already given 
of buildings and columns. If the whole, or a considerable part of them, 
were to be covered with sharp projecting ornaments, the eye would be 
harassed and distracted, and there would be a want of repose ; on the 
other hand, if the whole were smooth and even, there would be a want 
of spirit and animation. 

It may be objected to this notion of the effects of smoothness and 



roughness, that the most highly polished, and consequently the smoothest 
of surfaces, are those which most strongly reflect the light, and of 
course most powerfully irritate the organ. But here likewise roughness, 
in which term I mean to include whatever is sharp, pointed, angular, or 
in any way contrary to smoothness, produces the effect I have ascribed 
to it ; for when smooth polished surfaces are cut into sharp angles, the 
irritation is infinitely increased. A table diamond, for instance, like 
other highly polished objects, has a considerable degree of stimulus ; but 
it is only when cut into a number of sharp points and angles, that it 
acquires the distinguished title of a brilliant. Light itself, when broken 
in its passage, though the quantity be diminished, is rendered more 
irritating ; we can bear the full uninterrupted splendour of the setting 
,sun, nay can gaze on the orb itself with little uneasiness ; but when its 
rays are broken by passing through a thin screen of leaves and branches, 
no eye is proof against the irritation. 

In all cases where there is a strong effect of light, whether immediate 
or reflected, there is of course a real irritation on the organ ; and it 
probably will be admitted, that there is a greater degree of it when the 
rays strike on pointed or angular, than, on smooth and even surfaces. 
But it may be said, that when there is no particular light upon objects, 
as on a sunless day, their roughness or abruptness causes no irritation in 
the organs of sight. I imagine, however, that besides the real irritation 
which is produced by means of broken lights, all broken, rugged, and 
abrupt forms and surfaces, have also by sympathy somewhat of the same 
effect on the sight, as on the touch. Indeed, as it is generally admitted, 
that the sense of seeing acquires all its perceptions of hard, soft, rough, 
smooth, &c. from that of feeling, such a sympathy seems almost un- 
avoidable. Rough and rugged objects, especially such as are sharp and 
pointed, are found at a very early age to give pain and irritation, when 
imprudently touched or applied to the body ; thence the eye learns to 
distinguish the visible appearance of such objects, and to connect it with 
the ideas that had been impressed by means of the sense of feeling. No 
one, it is true, can recollect when the first impression was made, or when 
the process commenced, by which the sight began to have a perception 
of qualities, which can alone excite a sensation by means of another 
sense ; but the impression, in itself a strong and lasting one, is frequently 
renewed. The opposite impressions of pleasure, ease, and repose, from 
smooth objects, are made and renewed in the same manner, and the same 
sort of connection established. Thus a gently sloping bank of soft and 
smooth turf, must, I imagine, suggest the idea of the quality of smooth- 
ness, and consequently of ease and repose to a person while he is 



viewing it, just as it does when he afterwards sits or lies down upon it : 
on the other hand a rough, abrupt, and stony bank, with stumps and 
roots of trees mixed with thorns and briers, would most certainly present 
ideas of a very opposite kind to a man who had to make his way through 
such obstructions ; and therefore would probably suggest them, though 
less forcibly, when at other times he was merely looking at it ; especially 
if the rude brakes, and the abruptnesses of the ground were contrasted, 
as is often the case, by openings of smooth turf and gently swelling hil- 
locks. All objects of a rugged and abrupt kind are so contrary to the 
nature of repose, that when a soft and pleasing calm is the leading 
feature in any description, the very supposition of such objects or 
qualities being introduced, would disturb the mind of the reader. Shak- 
speare has most beautifully and poetically impressed an image of 
stillness and repose when he says, 

"How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon yon bank !" 

Nothing in that line gives any indication what sort of a bank it was ; 
but if you fancy it broken and abrupt, the moon might indeed shine, but 
it could no longer sleep upon it. 

([Nothing can be more in accordance with the doctrine of association, 
than that which Sir Uvedale Price has here set down, and the examples 
which he gives are peculiarly happy. — E.] 

The same kind of sympathy that takes place in smaller objects, in 
broken ground, roots, stones, thorns, or briers, where a certain degree 
of difficulty and irritation is common and familiar, seems to continue 
whatever be the scale. A fall from a great height, as from the side of a 
precipice, is equally destructive, whether the surface upon which you 
would fall be rugged or plain ; yet the imagination would be differently 
affected by looking down upon an even surface, or on sharp pointed 
rocks ; and some feeling of that kind, I believe, is always connected, 
though we may not at all times be conscious of it, with broken and 
pointed forms. 

But although it seems highly probable that such forms produce a kind 
of stimulus from sympathy, not unlike that which broken lights excite 
in the organ, yet the most constant and manifest stimulus which rough 
and abrupt objects produce in picturesque scenery, is that of curiosity. 
This will clearly appear, if we consider in how much greater a degree 
all that most excites and nourishes curiosity abounds in scenes where 
the lines and forms are broken and abrupt, than in those where they are 
smooth and flowing. 

If, by way of example, we take any smooth object, the lines of which 




are flowing, such as a down of the finest turf, with gentle swelling knolls 
and hillocks of every soft and undulating form — though the eye may 
repose on this with pleasure, yet the whole is seen at once, and no further 
curiosity is excited. But let those swelling knolls (without altering the 
scale) be broken into abrupt rocky projections, with deep hollows and 
coves beneath the overhanging stones ; instead of the smooth turf, let 
there be furze, heath, or fern, with open patches between, and fragments 
of the rock and large stones lying in irregular masses — it is clear, if you 
suppose these two spots of the same extent, and on the same scale, that 
the whole of the one may be comprehended immediately, and that if you 
traverse it in every direction, little new can occur ; while in the other, 
every step changes the composition. Then each of these broken projec- 
tions and fragments, have as many suddenly varying forms and aspects 
as they have breaks, even when the sun is hidden ; but when it does 
shine upon them, each break is the occasion of some brilliant light, 
opposed to some sudden 'shadow. All such deep coves and hollows, 
as are usually found in this style of scenery, invite the eye to penetrate 
into their recesses, yet keep its curiosity alive and unsatisfied ; whereas 
in the other, the light and shadow has the same uniform, unbroken 
character as the ground itself. 

I have, in both these scenes, avoided any mention of trees ; for in all 
trees of every growth, there is a comparative roughness and intricacy, 
which, unless counteracted by great skill in the improver, will always 
prevent absolute monotony : yet the difference between those which 
appear planted or cleared for the purpose of beauty, with the ground 
made perfectly smooth about them, and those which are wild and 
uncleared, with the ground of the same character, is very apparent. 
Take, for instance, any open grove, where the trees, though neither in 
rows nor at equal distances, are detached from each other, and cleared 
from all underwood ; the turf on which they stand smooth and level ; 
and their stems distinctly seen. Such a grove, of full-grown flourishing 
trees, that have had room to extend their heads and branches, is 
deservedly called beautiful ; and if a gravel road winds easily through 
it, the whole will be in character. But how different is the scenery in 
forests ! Whoever has been among them, and has attentively observed the 
character of those parts, where wild tangled thickets open into glades — 
half seen across the stems of old stag-headed oaks and twisted beeches — 
has remarked the irregular tracks of wheels, and the foot-paths of men 
and animals, how they seem to have been seeking and forcing their way, 
in every direction — must have felt how differently the stimulus of 
furiosity is excited in such scenes, and how much likewise the varied 



effects of light and shadow are promoted, by the variety and intricacy 
of the objects. 

If it be true that a certain irritation or stimulus is necessary to the 
picturesque, it is equally so that a soft and pleasing repose is the effect, 
and the characteristic of the beautiful; and what, in my mind, places this 
position in a very favourable light is, that the peculiar excellence of the 
painter who most studied the beautiful in landscape, is characterised 
by il rij)Gso di Claudio ; and when the mind of man is in the delight- 
ful state of repose of which Claude's pictures are the image — when he 
feels that mild and equal sunshine of the soul which warms and cheers, 
but neither inflames nor irritates, his heart seems to dilate with happi- 
ness, he is disposed to every act of kindness and benevolence, to love 
and cherish all around him. These are the sensations which beauty, con- 
sidered generally, and without any regard to the sex or to the nature of 
the object in which it resides, does, and ought to excite. A mind in such 
a state may be compared to the surface of a pure and tranquil lake, into 
which if the smallest pebble be cast, the waters, like the affections, seem 
gently to expand themselves on every side ; but when the mind is carried 
on by any eager pursuit, the still voice of the milder affections is as little 
heard, and its effect as shortlived, as the sound or effect of a pebble, 
when thrown into a rapid and rocky stream. 

Repose is always used in a good sense ; as a state, if not of positive 
pleasure, at least as one of freedom from all pain and uneasiness ; irrita- 
tion, almost always in an opposite sense ; and yet, contradictory as it may 
appear, we must acknowledge it to be the source of our most active and 
lively pleasures : its nature, however, is eager and hurrying, and such 
are the pleasures which spring from it. Let those who have been used 
to observe the works of nature, reflect on their sensations when viewing 
the smooth and tranquil scene of a beautiful lake, or the wild, abrupt, and 
noisy one of a picturesque river. I think they will own them to have 
been as different as the scenes themselves, and that nothing but the 
poverty of language makes us call two sensations so distinct from each 
other, by the common name of pleasure. 

[[Yet this is nothing after all but a complaint that our language is 
poor, because it does not admit of our having names sufficient to de- 
nominate all the various kinds of pleasure which the human mind is 
capable of enjoying. Tragedy and comedy are alike the sources of 
pleasure to mankind ; but although it would certainly be no misfor- 
tune if our language were so copious as to enable us to afford to em- 
ploy one particular name definitive of the sad pleasure we enjoy in the 
one case, and another descriptive of the merry pleasure which we enjoy 



in the other, I greatly question whether the science of the anatomy of 
the human mind would be thereby one iota advanced. — E.] 

All that has been said in this chapter with respect to the effects of 
roughness and smoothness, of light and shadow, in producing either 
irritation or repose, will receive much additional illustration from that 
art, by means of which the most striking characters of visible objects 
have been pointed ( ut to our notice, and impressed on our minds. I 
now, therefore, shall take a view of the practice and principles of some 
of the most eminent painters, and shall endeavour to strengthen the 
positions which I have ventured to advance, by their examples and 

The genius of Rubens was strongly turned to the picturesque dis- 
position of his figures, so as often to sacrifice every other consideration 
to the intricacy, contrast, and striking variations of their forms and 
groups. Such a disposition of objects seems to call for something 
similar in the management of the light and shade; and, accordingly, we 
owe some of the most striking examples of both to his fertile invention. 
In point of brilliancy, of extreme splendour of light, no pictures can 
stand in competition with those of Rubens. I speak of those pictures 
(and they are very numerous) in which he aimed at great brilliancy. 
As no painter possessed more entirely all the principles of his art, the 
solemn breadth of his light and shade is, on some occasions, no less strik- 
ing than its force and splendour on others. Sometimes those lights are 
almost unmixed with shade ; at other times they burst from dark shadows, 
they glance on the different parts of the picture, and produce that flicker 
(as it sometimes is called) so captivating to the eye under his management, 
but so apt to offend it when attempted by inferior artists, or by those 
who are less thoroughly masters of the principles of harmony than that 
great painter. All these dazzling effects are heightened by the spirited 
management of his pencil — by those sharp, animated touches, which give 
life and energy to every object. 

Correggio's principal attention, in point of form, was directed to flow 
of outline, and gradual variation : of this he never entirely lost sight, 
even in his most capricious fore-shortenings — and the style of his light 
and shadow is so congenial, that the one seems the natural consequence 
of the other. His pictures are always cited as the most perfect models 
of those soft and insensible transitions, of that union of effect which, 
above every thing else, impresses the general idea of beauty. The 
manner of his pencilling is exactly of a piece with the rest — all seems 
melted together, but with so nice a judgment, as to avoid, by means of 
certain free, yet delicate touches, that laboured hardness and insipidity 



which arise from what is called high finishing. Correggio's pictures are 
indeed as far removed from monotony, as from glare ; he seems to have 
felt, beyond all others, the exact degree of brilliancy which accords with 
the softness of beauty, and to have been with regard to figures, what 
Claude was in landscape. 

The pictures of Claude are brilliant in a high degree — but that bril- 
liancy is so diffused over the whole of them, so happily balanced, so 
mellowed and subdued by the almost visible atmosphere which pervades 
every part, and unites all together, that nothing in particular catches 
the eye — the whole is splendour, the whole is repose — every thing 
lighted up, every thing in sweetest harmony. Rubens differs as strongly 
from Claude, as he does from Correggio. His landscapes are full of 
the peculiarities, and picturesque accidents in nature — of striking con- 
trasts in form, colour, and light and shadow : sunbeams bursting through 
a small opening in a dark wood — a rainbow against a stormy sky — 
effects of thunder and lightning, torrents rolling down, trees torn up by 
the roots, and the dead bodies of men and animals — are among the sub- 
lime and picturesque circumstances exhibited by his daring pencil. 
These sudden gleams, these cataracts of light, these bold oppositions of 
clouds and darkness which he has so nobly introduced, would destroy 
all the beauty and elegance of Claude : on the other hand, the mild and 
equal sunshine of that charming painter, would as ill accord with the 
twisted and singular forms, and the bold and animated variety of the 
landscapes of Rubens. The distinct characters and effects of light and 
shadow on the great face of nature, which have been imitated by Rubens 
and by Claude, may not unaptly be compared to the no less distinct 
characters and effects of smiles on the human countenance — nothing is 
so captivating, or seems so much to accord with our ideas of beauty, as 
the smiles of a beautiful countenance — yet they have sometimes a strik- 
ing mixture of another character. Of this kind are those smiles which 
break out suddenly from a serious, sometimes from almost a severe 
countenance, and which, when that gleam is over, leave no trace of it 
behind — 

" Brief as the lightning in the collied night, 
That in a spleen unfolds both heaven and earth ; 
And ere a man has time to say, behold ! 
The jaws of darkness do devour it up." 

This sudden effect is often hinted at by the Italian poets, as appears 
by their allusion to the most sudden and dazzling of lights; — gli scintilla 
un riso — lampeggia un riso — il balenar d'un riso. 

There is another smile, which seems in the same degree to accord 



with the ideas of beauty only. It is that smile which proceeds from a 
mind full of sweetness and sensibility, and which, when it is over, still 
leaves on the countenance its mild and amiable impression ; as, after the 
sun is set, the mild glow of his rays is still diffused over every object. 
This smile, with the glow that accompanies it, is beautifully painted by 
Milton, as most becoming an inhabitant of heaven — 

" To whom the angel, with a smile that glow'd 
Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue, 
Thus answerM." 

If the general brilliancy and dazzling effects of that splendid 
painter Rubens, may justly be opposed to the more mild diffusion of 
light in Claude and Correggio, the deep midnight shadows which Rem- 
brandt has spread over the greater part of his canvass, may be opposed 
to it with equal justice ; and the whole of the comparison between these 
painters may serve to show, how much the picturesque delights in ex- 
tremes, while the beautiful preserves a just medium between them. 
The general character of Rembrandt's pictures is that of extreme force, 
arising from a small portion of light amidst surrounding darkness ; and 
though it be true that Rubens and Correggio, and even Claude, have 
produced effects of that kind, yet it was only occasionally, and where the 
subject, as in night scenes, required them ; whereas, in Rembrandt they 
result from his prevailing principle : and it hardly need be said, how 
much more they are suited to objects and circumstances of a picturesque, 
than a beautiful character. Rembrandt's pencilling, where it is most 
apparent (for he well knew where to soften it) is no less different from 
that of the painters I have mentioned, than the principle on which he 
wrought ; his colours seem, as it were, dabbed on the canvass ; and one 
might suppose them to have been worked upon it with some coarser 
instrument than a painter's brush. Many painters, indeed, when they 
represent any striking effect of light, leave the touches of the pencil 
more rough and strongly marked, than the quality of the objects them- 
selves seems to justify ; but Rembrandt, who succeeded beyond all others 
in these forcible effects, carried also this method of creating them further 
than any other master. Those who have seen his famous picture in the 
Stadthouse at Amsterdam, may remember a figure highly illuminated, 
whose dress is a silver tissue, with fringes, tassels, and other ornaments, 
nearly of the same brilliant colour : it is the most surprising instance I 
ever saw of the effect of that rough manner of pencilling, in producing 
what most nearly approaches to the glitter and to the irritation which 
is caused by real light, when acting powerfully on any object ; and this 



too with a due attention to general harmony, and with such a command- 
ing truth of representation, as no high finishing can give. 

The following anecdote of Sir Joshua Reynolds, which a friend of 
mine heard from a pupil of his who was present at the scene, will serve 
as a further illustration of the subject — and I trust will not be unaccep- 
table to the reader. This pupil, going one day into Sir Joshua's paint- 
ing room, found him in a state of perplexing contemplation ; he had 
been endeavouring to produce a glitter on a piece of splendid drapery, 
which occupied a very interesting situation in the centre of the eye of 
his picture, and never could do it to his mind. He tried again and again ; 
rubbed it out ; took snuff with unusual energy, but all would not do. 
He now looked for some time despondingly on the picture, playing with 
a large hog's brush which he held in his hand : at length he began to 
move backwards towards the chimney with his brush behind him, till 
his heel kicked the fender ; when, stooping sideways, he thrust the brush 
into the ashes and cinders. His face then assumed a look of hope mixed 
with exultation, and having just wiped off a portion of the cinders on 
the carpet, he advanced towards his work, and grouted on the remains 
of them upon the part where he wished the brilliancy to be produced, 
crying out with a triumphant air, " that will do." 

His object, which was accomplished by a kind of instinct, seems to 
have been this : to lay on such a ground for the reception of the proper 
colours, as by facing the light in a number of different directions might 
produce such a flicker, as could not be given by putting on the colours 
in the common way upon a smooth surface. 

Rembrandt, it is well known, had scarcely any idea of beauty or ele- 
gance ; and as little of that grandeur in the human form, which results 
from correctness and fulness of outline, added to nobleness of character. 
He had, however, a grandeur of his own of a mixed and peculiar kind, 
produced by the arrangement of his compositions, and even by the form 
of many of the objects themselves, when set off and partially concealed 
by the breadth and the disposition of his light and shadow. In that 
branch of his art in which he is so pre-eminent, he often produces a 
mysterious solemnity, which impresses very grand ideas, and which, I 
am persuaded, would add no small degree of grandeur to the figures 
and compositions of the higher schools. Rembrandt has great variety 
and truth of expression, though seldom of an elevated kind ; one figure 
of his, however — the Christ raising Lazarus — for the simple, yet com- 
manding dignity of the charactor and action, is perhaps superior to that 
of any painter who has treated that awful subject. I do not recollect 
any other figure of his in that style equally striking ; but, should the 


Christ be a single instance, it still may show that genius was not want- 
ing, though early education and habit, and all that he saw around him, 
whether in nature or in art, had given a different bias to his mind. 
That bias seems to have been towards rich and picturesque effects, 
especially those of light and shadow ; and the figures, dresses, buildings 
— scenes which he represented — though they occasionally produced gran- 
deur, were chiefly chosen with a view to such effects. What was his 
opinion of studying the antique may be inferred from an anecdote men- 
tioned in his life ; — he carried one of his visitors into an inward room, 
and, showing him a parcel of old-fashioned dresses and odd bits of 
armour, " there," said he, " are my antiques." 

Rubens, though he set a just value on ancient statues, and though 
he endeavoured to gain a more chaste and correct outline by copying, 
and, as it is said, by tracing the outlines of drawings that were excel- 
lent in that respect, could never overcome his original bias. Indeed, it 
may admit of some doubt whether a strict attention to such excellences be 
compatible with that peculiar spirit and effect which his works display ; 
and whether he might not have lost more on one side than he would have 
gained on the other. Much certainly may be done by early and con- 
stant practice, but correctness and purity are allied to caution and 
timidity ; and, to be in a high degree correct and chaste in form, 
spirited in touch, rich in colouring, and splendid in effect, is a combina- 
tion of which the art of painting, since its revival, can hardly be said 
to have given any perfect example. 

As the most exquisite of the ancient statues are the acknowledged 
standards of grandeur and beauty of form, combined with purity and 
correctness of outline, so the painters who have most formed themselves 
on those models, however they may have departed from them in certain 
points, are most distinguished for some of those excellences. But one 
very material difference between sculpture and painting, must always 
be taken into consideration. In sculpture, the whole work being of 
one uniform colour, and the figures, whether single or grouped, without 
any accompaniments, there is nothing to seduce or distract the eye 
from the form, to which, therefore, the efforts of the sculptor are almost 
exclusively directed ; whereas, in painting, the charm of general effect 
or impression, of whatever kind it may be, will often counterbalance 
the greatest defects in point of form, and make amends for the want of 
grandeur, beauty, and correctness. 

The grandest style of painting is generally allowed to be that of the 
Roman and Florentine schools ; and among the works produced by 
them, the fresco paintings of Michael Angelo and Raphael claim the 



first place. Nearly the same rank may be assigned to the pictures in 
oil of the same schools, in which, according to Sir Joshua Reynolds, the 
full unmixed colours, the distinct blues, reds, and yellows, very much 
conduce to the general grandeur. The style of these schools is more 
congenial to sculpture than that of any other ; as the great masters by 
which they were rendered so illustrious, directed their chief attention 
to the same objects as the sculptors, and either rejected, or very spar- 
ingly admitted those captivating charms belonging to their own art, 
of which the other schools have so much availed themselves. This is 
particularly the case with Michael Angel o, himself a statuary, and at 
least as eminent in sculpture as in painting. He worked almost entirely 
in fresco, the grandeur of which was so suited to his genius, that he is 
said to have declared, after a single trial in oil, that oil-painting was 
fit only for women. His works, as it may well be supposed, have no- 
thing of sensual attraction ; and the same thing may be said in a great 
measure of the other masters of his and the Roman school. Their colour- 
ing — however well adapted to the character of their figures and compo- 
sitions, however it may satisfy the judgment — has little to please the 
eye ; and I should conceive that if it were applied to objects divested 
of grandeur and dignity, the union would appear incongruous, and that 
the affinity I mentioned between the grand style of painting and sculp- 
ture would be still more evident, from their being almost equally unlit 
to represent objects merely picturesque. 

The Venetian style, on the other hand, in which there is a greater 
variety of colours, and those broken and blended into each other, is in 
itself extremely attractive from its richness, glow, and harmony : it 
gives a sort of consequence and elevation to objects the most simply 
picturesque, yet preserves their just character. One painter of this 
school must in some measure be considered separately from the rest ; 
for, when Sir Joshua Reynolds speaks of the Venetian style as orna- 
mental or picturesque, and consequently, according to the principles he 
has laid down, less suited to grandeur, he makes an exception in favour 
of Titian ; and the grounds on which he makes it very clearly explain 
his ideas of the distinction between grandeur and picturesqueness. In 
comparing a picture of that master with one of Rubens, he opposes the 
regularity and uniformity, the quiet solemn majesty in the work of the 
Venetian, to the bustle and animation, and to the picturesque disposition 
in that of the Flemish master.* 

As the ornamental style of the Venetians, and of Rubens, who formed 

* Note -2.") tli on Du Fresnoi. 



himself upon it, bears a nearer relation to the beautiful than to the 
grand, so, on the other hand, the picturesque style where ornament is 
little used, as in the works of Salvator Rosa, is more nearly related to 
grandeur, The style of Salvator and that of Rembrandt, though widely 
different, resemble each other in one particular — in each the strokes of 
the pencil are often left in the roughest manner ; and as nothing can be 
more adapted to strongly marked picturesque objects and effects, so no- 
thing can be less suited to express beauty, and to convey a general im- 
pression of that character. What is the style most truly productive of 
that general impression, will be much better learnt from the words of Sir 
Joshua Reynolds, than from any thing I could say, though he had not 
exactly the same point in view. Speaking of Correggio, he says — " His 
colour and his mode of finishing approach nearer to perfection than those 
of any other painter ; the gliding motion of his outline, and the sweetness 
with which it melts into the ground, the clearness aud transparency of 
his colouring, which stops at that exact medium in which the purity 
and perfection of taste lies, leave nothing to be wished for." 

If there be any style of painting, which, in contra-distinction to the 
others, might justly be called the beautiful style, that of Correggio has 
certainly, from this description, the best pretensions to the title ; but, 
as that word is so commonly used merely to signify excellent, and as in 
that sense all styles which are suited to the subject, and all pictures 
which give a just and impressive representation of the objects, (though 
the most hideous and disgusting,) are equally beautiful, Sir Joshua 
might naturally have declined giving it that name, even supposing him 
inclined to make such a distinction. He seems, however, in some degree 
to have indicated it ; first, by what he says of Guido's manner being 
particularly adapted to express female beauty and delicacy ; and, 
secondly, by the whole account of the manner of Correggio, which, it 
must be observed, he has not classed either with the ornamental or with 
the grand style. He remarks, indeed, in another place, that it has 
something of the simplicity of the grand style in the breadth of the 
light and shadow, and the continued flow of outline ; but no person, I 
think, who reads the description of it just quoted, can doubt that, having 
neither the solemnity and severity of the grand, nor the richness and 
splendour of the ornamental style, it must have a separate character in 
a high degree appropriate to what is simply beautiful ; and may equally 
witli them (though that is a consideration of much less importance) lay 
claim to a distinct title. 

It is no small confirmation of all that I have advanced in the early 
part of this chapter, to find that each style of painting corresponds with 



the characteristic marks of the grand, the beautiful, and the picturesque 
in real objects ; and I trust that the different shades of distinction that 
have been noticed, will be found consistent with the general principles. 
The style of the Venetians and of Pietro da Cortona, will not accord 
with the grand character, on account of its splendour, its gaiety, and 
profusion of ornaments ; and the reproof of Apelles may show, that such 
a profusion is not adapted to beauty, though more congenial to it than 
to graudeur. Again, the style of Salvator Rosa, Rembrandt. Spagnolet, 
Caravaggio. which have a greater affinity to grandeur, are ill suited 
to beauty, from qualities notoriously adverse to that character ; for who 
would wish to have the dark shadows of Caravaggio or Rembrandt, or 
the bold touches of Salvator or Spagnolet, employed on nymphs and 
sleeping cupids ? — or, on the other hand, the fresh and tender hues of 
Albano, or the sweetness of Correggio's pencilling and colouring, on 
executioners, sea-monsters, and banditti \ 




The various effects in painting which have been discussed in the last 
chapter, naturally lead me to that great principle of the art, breadth 
of light and shadow. What is called breadth, seems to bear nearly the 
same relation to light and shadow, as smoothness does to material ob- 
jects ; for, as a greater degree of irritation arises from uneven surfaces, 
and from those most of all which are broken into little inequalities, so 
all lights and shadows which are interrupted and scattered, are in- 
finitely more irritating than those which are broad and continued. 
Every person of the least observation must have remarked how broad 
the lights and shadows are on a fine evening in nature, or (what is 
almost the same thing) in a picture of Claude. He must equally have 
remarked the extreme difference between such lights and shadows, and 
those which sometimes disgrace the works of painters, in other respects 
of great excellence ; and which prevail in nature, when the sunbeams, 
refracted and dispersed in every direction by a number of white flicker- 
ing clouds, create a perpetually shifting glare, and keep the eye in a 
state of constant irritation. All such accidental effects arising from 
clouds, though they strongly show the general principle, and are highly 
proper to be studied by all lovers of painting or of nature, yet not 
being subject to our control, are of less use to improvers ; a great deal, 



however, is subject to our control, and I believe we may lay it down 
as a very general maxim, that in proportion as the objects are scattered, 
unconnected, and in patches, the lights and shadows will be so too, and 
vice versa. 

If, for instance, we suppose a continued sweep of hills, either entirely 
wooded, or entirely bare, to be under the influence of a low cloudless 
sun — whatever parts are exposed to that sun, will have one broad light 
upon them ; whatever are hid from it, one broad shade. If, again, we 
suppose the wood to have been thinned in such a manner, as to have 
left masses, groups, and single trees, so disposed as to present a pleasing 
and connected whole, though with detached parts ; or the bare hills to 
have been planted in the same style — the variety of light and shadow 
will be greatly increased, and the general breadth still be preserved : 
nor would that breadth be injured if an old ruin, a cottage, or any build- 
ing of a quiet tint were discovered among the trees. But if the wood 
were so thinned, as to have a poor, scattered, unconnected appearance ; 
or the hills planted with clumps and detached trees — the lights and 
shadows would have the same broken and disjointed effect as the objects 
themselves ; and if to this were added any harsh contrast, such as clumps 
of firs and white buildings, the irritation would be greatly increased. 
In all these cases, the eye, instead of reposing on one broad, connected 
whole, is stopt and harassed by little disunited, discordant parts. I of 
course suppose the sun to act on these different objects with equal splen- 
dour ; for there are some days when the whole sky is so full of jarring 
lights, that the shadiest groves and avenues hardly preserve their solem- 
nity ; and there are others, when the atmosphere, like the last glazing 
of a picture, softens into mellowness whatever is crude throughout the 

Milton, whose eyes seem to have been most sensibly affected by every 
accident and gradation of light, (arid that possibly in a great degree 
from the weakness, and consequently the irritability of those organs,) 
speaks always of twilight with peculiar pleasure. He has even reversed 
what Socrates did by philosophy ; he has called up twilight from earth, 
and placed it in heaven : 

" From that high mount of God, whence light and shade 
Spring forth, the face of hrightest heaven had changed 
To grateful twilight." 

What is also singular, he has in this passage made shade an essence 
equally with light, not merely a privation of it ; a compliment, never, I 
believe, paid to shadow before, but which might be expected from his 
aversion to glare, so frequently and so strongly expressed : 


" Hide mo from day's garish eye. 11 — 
" When the sun begins to fling 
His flaring beams. 11 

The peculiarity of the effect of twilight is to soften and mellow. At 
that delightful time, even artificial water, however naked, edgy, and 
tame its hanks, will often receive a momentary charm ; for then all that 
is scattered and cutting, all that disgusts a painter's eye, is blended 
together in one broad and soothing harmony of light and shadow. I 
have more than once at such a moment, happened to arrive at a place 
entirely new to me, and have been struck in the highest degree with 
the appearance of wood, water, and buildings, that seemed to accompany 
and set off each other in the happiest manner ; and I felt quite impa- 
tient to examine all these beauties by daylight : 

" At length the morn, and cold indifference came. 11 

The charm which held them together, and made them act so powerfully 
as a whole, had vanished. 

It may, perhaps, be said that the imagination, from a few imperfect 
hints, often forms beauties which have no existence, and that indifference 
may naturally arise from those phantoms not being realised. I am far 
from denying the power of partial concealment and obscurity on the 
imagination ; but in these cases, the set of objects when seen by twilight, 
is beautiful as a picture, and would appear highly so if exactly repre- 
sented on the canvass ; but in full daylight, the sun, as it were, decom- 
pounds what had been so happily mixed together, and separates a 
striking whole into detached unimpressive parts. 

Nothing, I believe, would be of more service in forming a taste for 
general effect, and general composition, than to examine the same scenes 
in the full distinctness of day, and again after sunset. In fact, twilight 
does what an improver ought to do : it connects what was before 
scattered ; it fills up staring, meagre vacancies ; it destroys edginess ; 
and by giving shadow as well as light to water, at once increases both 
its brilliancy and softness. It must, however, be observed, that twi- 
light, while it takes off the edginess of those objects which are below 
the horizon, more sensibly marks the outline of those which are above it, 
and opposed to the sky ; and consequently discovers the defects as well 
as the beauties of their forms. From this circumstance improvers may 
learn a very useful lesson — that the outline against the sky should be 
particularly attended to, so that nothing lumpy, meagre, or discordant 
should be there ; for at all times, in such a situation, the form is made 
out, but most of all when twilight has melted the other parts together. 



At that time, many varied groups and elegant shapes of trees, which 
were scarcely noticed in the more general diffusion of light, distinctly 
appear ; then, too, the stubborn clump, which before was but too plainly 
seen, makes a still fouler blot on the horizon : while there is a glimmer- 
ing of light he maintains his post, nor yields, till even his blackness is 
at last confounded in the general blackness of night. 

These are the powers and effects of that breadth which I have been 
describing, and which may justly be considered as a source of visual 
pleasure distinct from all others ; for objects, which in themselves are 
neither beautiful, nor sublime, nor picturesque, are incidentally made to 
delight the eye, from their being productive of breadth. This seems to 
account for the pleasure we receive from many massive, heavy objects, 
which, when deprived of the effect of that harmonizing principle, and 
considered singly, are even positively ugly. Such, indeed, is the effect 
of breadth, that pictures or drawings eminently possessed of it, though 
they should have no other merit, will always attract the attention of a 
cultivated eye ; while others, where the detail is admirable, but where 
this master-principle is wanting, will often, at the first view, be passed 
by without notice. The mind, however, requires to be stimulated as 
well as soothed, and there is in this, as in so many other instances, 
a strong analogy between painting and music : the first effect of mere 
breadth of light and shadow is to the eye, what that of mere harmony 
of sounds is to the ear ; both produce a pleasing repose — a calm sober 
delight — which, if not relieved by something less uniform, soon sinks 
into distaste and weariness : for repose and sleep, which are often used 
as synonymous terms, are always nearly allied. Cut as the principle of 
harmony must be preserved in the wildest and most eccentric pieces of 
music — in those where sudden, and quickly varying emotions of the soul 
are expressed — so must that of breadth be equally attended to in scenes 
of bustle and seeming confusion ; in those where the wildest scenery, 
or most violent agitations of nature are represented ; and I am here 
tempted to parody that frequently quoted passage of Shakspeare — " in 
the very torrent, tempest, and whirlwind of the elements, the artist, in 
painting them, must acquire a breadth that will give them smoothness." 

There is, however, no small difficulty in uniting breadth with the 
detail, the splendid variety, and marked character of nature. Claude 
is admirable in this, as in almost every other respect : with the greatest 
accuracy of detail, and truth of character, his pictures have the breadth 
of the simplest washed drawing, or aquatinta print, where little else is 
expressed or intended. In a strong light, they are full of interesting 
and entertaining particulars; and as twilight comes on, I have often 


observed in them the same gradual fading of the glimmering landscape, 
as in real nature. 

This art of preserving breadth with detail and brilliancy, has been 
studied with great success by Teniers, Jan Steen, and many of the Dutch 
masters. Ostade's pictures and etchings are among the happiest ex- 
amples of it ; but, above all others, the works of that scarce and wonder- 
ful master, Gerard Dow. His eye seems to have had a microscopic 
power in regard to the minute texture of objects, (for in his paintings 
they bear the severe trial of the strongest magnifier,) and, at the same 
time, the opposite faculty of excluding all particulars with respect to 
breadth and general effect. His master, Rembrandt, did not attend to 
minute detail ; but by that peculiar and commanding manner, which 
marked with equal force and justness the leading character of each ob- 
ject, he produced an idea of detail, much beyond what is really ex- 
pressed. Many of the great Italian masters have done this also, and 
with a taste, a grandeur, and a nobleness of style, unknown to the in- 
ferior schools, though none have exceeded, or perhaps equalled Rem- 
brandt, in truth, force, and effect. But when artists, neglecting the 
variety of detail, and those characteristic features that well supply its 
place, content themselves with mere breadth, and propose that as the 
final object of attainment — their productions, and the interest excited 
by them, will be, in comparison of the styles I have mentioned, what a 
metaphysical treatise is to Shakspeare or Fielding ; they will be rather 
illustrations of a principle, than representations of what is real ; a sort 
of abstract idea of nature, not very unlike Crambe's abstract idea of a 
lord mayor. 

As nothing is more flattering to the vanity and indolence of man- 
kind, than the being able to produce a pleasing general effect with little 
labour or study, so nothing more obstructs the progress of the art, than 
such a facility. Yet still these abstracts are by no means without their 
comparative merit, and they have their use as well as their danger ; they 
show how much may be effected by the mere naked principle, and the 
great superiority which that alone can give to whatever is formed upon 
it, over those things which are done on no principle at all — where the 
separate objects are set down, as it were, article by article — and where 
the confusion of lights so perplexes the eye, that one might suppose the 
artist had looked at them through a multiplying glass. 

I may, perhaps, be thought to have dwelt longer on this article than 
the principal design of my book seemed to require ; but although — as 
I mentioned in a former part — the study of light and shadow appears, 
at first sight, to belong exclusively to the painter, yet, like every thing 


which relates to that charming art, it will be found of infinite service 
to the improver. Indeed, the violations of this principle of breadth 
and harmony of light and shadow, are, perhaps, more frequent, and 
more disgustingly offensive than those of any other. 

Many people seem to have a sort of callus over their organs of sight, 
as others over those of hearing ; and as the callous hearers feel nothing 
in music but kettle-drums and trombones, so the callous seers can only 
be moved by strong oppositions of black and white, or by fiery reds. 
I am therefore so far from laughing at Mr. Locke's blind man for 
likening scarlet to the sound of a trumpet, that I think he had great 
reason to pride himself on the discovery- 
It might well be supposed, that the natural colour of brick was suffi- 
ciently stimulating ; but I have seen brick houses painted of so much 
more flaming a red, that, according to Mr. Brown's expression, they 
put the whole vale in a fever. White, though glaring, has not that 
hot sultry appearance ; and there is such a look of neatness and gaiety 
in it, that we cannot be surprised, if, where lime is cheap, only one 
idea should prevail — that of making every thing as white as possible. 
Wherever this is the case, the whole landscape is full of little spots, 
which can only be made pleasing to a painter's eye, by their being 
almost buried in trees ; but where a country is without natural wood, 
and is improved by dint of white-wash and clumps of firs, a painter, 
were he confined there, would be absolutely driven to despair, and feel 
ready to renounce, not only his art, but his eyesight. 

One of the most charming effects of sunshine, is its giving to objects, 
not merely light, but that mellow golden hue so beautiful in itself, and 
which, when diffused, as in a fine evening, over the whole landscape, 
creates that rich union and harmony, so enchanting in nature and in 
Claude : in any scene, whether real or painted, where such harmony 
prevails, the least discordancy in colour would disturb the eye ; but if 
we suppose a single object of a glaring white to be introduced, the 
whole attention, in spite of all our efforts to the contrary, will be 
drawn to that one point ; if many such objects be scattered about, the 
eye will be distracted among them. From that analogy so often men- 
tioned, it is usual to say that an object in a picture, or in nature, is out 
of tune. The expression is perfectly just — in music, one such note will 
invincibly fix our attention upon it, and several distract it ; and, in 
either case, it is impossible to enjoy the harmony of the rest. There 
is, indeed, one essential difference ; a passing note, however false, is 
quickly over, but a glaring object is like an' eternal holding note held 
firmly out of tune, and which, in that case, well deserves the name an 



unmusical friend once gave to holding- notes in general — " I don't 
know what you call them," said he, " I mean one of those long noises." 

Again — to consider this part of the subject in another view — -when 
the sun breaks out in gleams, there is something that delights and sur- 
prises, in seeing an object, before only visible, lighted up in splendour, 
and then gradually sinking into shade ; but a whitened object is al- 
ready lighted up — it remains so when every thing has retired into ob- 
scurity — it still forces itself into notice — still impudently stares you in 
the face. 

certain circumstances I hold this observation to be very just. But, 
when richly embosomed in trees, I conceive that white buildings often 
give the liveliest and most sparkling effect to scenery. Of this fact, any 
one who has visited Italy, and particularly the Italian lakes, must be 
perfectly persuaded by experience. See, for example, how the shores 
of the Lakes of Maggiore, Lugano, and Como, are clustered with little 
towns of the purest white, that appear like strings of orient pearls, 
between the blue water in which they are reflected, and the deep woods 
which cluster interminably over them, whence every now and then some 
prominent rock rears its head, to be crowned with some convent or 
villa of the same hue, whilst every jutting promontory below is orna- 
mented by some such gem of human workmanship. Over these the 
full Italian sun pours forth his unshorn splendour, giving so universal a 
tone of brilliancy to the whole fairy scene, as to bring all its parts into 
perfect harmony. I am quite aware that Claude himself in painting 
such a scene, would have felt it necessary to subdue and keep down the 
intensity of many of these touches of white. But the art of a painter 
consists in the very exercise of the knowledge of what ought to be sub- 
dued in a picture, and what ought to be brought prominently forward. 
He seldom, or rather, I should say, he never finds this ready done for 
him in nature. He must do it for himself ; and I fear much that, if 
the landscape gardener were to direct the whole of his attention to 
making perfect pictures for the artist, he would very much lose his time 
and labour. This remark is not inconsistent with my firm belief in the 
great advantage which landscape gardeners will gain by the extensive 
study of pictures, in perfecting them in the art of improving general 
effects. All I contend for is, that we must not suppose that nothing 
can give us pleasure in nature which is not capable of producing a good 
effect upon canvass when painted just as it is. Using the term in the 
Italian sense, I think I am not altogether unblessed with I'occhio pit- 
toresco. But be this as it may, as I floated over the smooth surface of 
Lugano or Como — although I failed not to drink in, with a never 



satiated thirst, the exhaustless beauties with which nature had so liber- 
ally surrounded me — although I was never tired with admiring the 
iu finite variety of form and colour, which the margin of the lake exhi- 
bited in its rocks, and headlands, and mysteriously receding bays and 
inlets, whilst they shifted and moved upon one another, as the boat 
glided past them — although my eye at one time would sink in luxurious 
refreshment into the richly tufted recesses among the noble trees, and 
then again soar upwards with eagle flight over the undulating surface 
of the hanging woods above, to skim with exultation over the bare and 
prominent crags, to the very summits of the mountains — yet it still would 
turn with unspeakable delight to rest upon those white buildings, the 
very sight of which awakened within me a thousand interesting associa- 
tions with man — his happiness — his trials — his pains — his pleasures — 
and his passions ; whilst the gay sun reminded me that I was in the 
fascinating climate of Italy, and I here had the satisfaction of thinking, 
that my estimate of its advantages was not to be reduced by the miser- 
able examples of poverty and disease, by which the eyes of the traveller 
are but too frequently shocked in other parts of the same country. Here 
I knew that early industry and prudence had produced comparative 
wealth and comfort. I was well aware that the greater part of those Little 
sparkling habitations that studded the shore, owed their creation to the 
industrious habits of the youth of these districts, who, leaving their homes 
in early life with a small stock of prints, looking-glasses, and barome- 
ters, wander wearily over the European world, exposed to all the perils 
and vicissitudes of weather and of fortune, until their small but certain 
gains, husbanded by sobriety and frugality, enable them to return with 
a sum which, though little in itself, is wealth to them in these simple 
and unsophisticated regions — seeing that it enables them to become pro- 
prietors of their native soil, by the purchase of some small and pic- 
turesque spot of land, whereon to build a commodious and tasteful 
dwelling. There, after uniting themselves to the objects of their early 
affections, for whom their constant attachment has never varied, in de- 
fiance of all the blandishments to which they may have been exposed 
from women of all countries, they sit down contented, and full of grati- 
tude to a beneficent God, to spend the remainder of their lives in ease 
and contentment, and to rear up a virtuous progeny, to go forth and 
return as their fathers had done. Filled with such reflections as these, 
how was it possible that I could have wished the white buildings of 
( lomo or Lugano to have been brought out less distinctly to my view? 

But with all this, I am, at the same time, disposed to be of Sir Uve- 
dale Price's opinion, that there are many occasions in which white— 



that is positive and absolute dead white — docs stare you most impudently 
in the face in landscape. But whilst this is admitted, we must, at the 
same time, remember that there is no colour that may not be made to 
appear offensive by being brought into improper contrast with others, 
and so producing a jar of mental association ; and, moreover, we must 
bear in mind, that such a thing as positive and absolute dead white is 
rarely to be met with — and still more rarely to be seen — under so glar- 
ing an effect as will fully bring out its native hue, unmellowed by the 
influence of air or sky. — E.] 

A cottage of a quiet colour half concealed among trees, with its bit 
of garden, its pales and orchard, is one of the most tranquil and sooth- 
ing of all rural objects ; when the sun strikes upon it, a number of 
lively picturesque circumstances are brought into view, and it becomes 
one of the most cheerful ; but if cleared round, and whitened, its 
modest retired character is gone, and is succeeded by a perpetual 

An object of a sober tint unexpectedly gilded by the sun, is like 
a serious countenance suddenly lighted up by a smile — a whitened 
object, like the eternal grin of a fool. Even very white teeth — where 
excess of whiteness is least to be feared — if seen too much, often give 
a kind of silly look, that seems to belong to the part itself: nothing 
can be more characteristic of that effect than Mr. Walpole's well 
known expression of " the gentleman with the foolish teeth." Those 
gentlemen .who deal much in pure white-wash, might well be distin- 
guished by the same compliment being paid to their buildings. 

I wish, however, to be understood, that when I speak of white-wash 
and whitened buildings, I mean that glaring white which is produced 
by lime alone, or without a sufficient quantity of any lowering in- 
gredient ; for there cannot be a greater, or a more immediate improve- 
ment, than that of giving to a fiery brick building the tint of a stone 
one. No person, I believe, has any doubt that stone — such as Bath 
and Portland, and many others which pass under the general name of 
free-stone — is the most beautiful material for building ; and I imagine 
there is no instance of an architect's having painted such stones white 
in order to make them more beautiful ; though dingy, or red stone, 
may sometimes have been painted of a free-stone colour. The true 
object of imitation seems therefore to be the tint of a beautiful stone ; 
and if those who whiten their buildings would pique themselves on 
matching exactly the colour of Bath, or Portland stone, so as to be 
neither whiter nor yellower, the greatest neatness and gaiety might 
prevail, without crudencss or glare. 



Such an improvement, however, should chiefly be confined to fiery 
brick ; for when brick becomes weather-stained and mossy, it har- 
monises with other colours, and has often a richness, mellowness, and 
variety of tint, infinitely pleasing to a painter's eye ; for the cool 
colour of the greenish moss lowers the fiery quality ; while the sub- 
dued fire beneath gives a glow of a peculiar character, which the 
painter would hardly like to exchange for any uniform colour — much 
less for the unmixed whiteness of lime. 

Besides the glare,- there is another circumstance which often renders 
white-wash extremely offensive to the eye, especially when it is ap- 
plied to any uneven surface ; and that is, a smeared, dirty appearance. 
This is the case where decayed or rough stone-work is dabbed with 
lime, while the dirt is left between the crevices ; as likewise where the 
coarse wood-work that separates the plastered walls of a cottage is 
brushed over, as well as the smooth walls themselves : in these cases, 
however, the objects are inconsiderable, and the effect in proportion ; 
but when this pitiful taste is employed upon some ancient castle-like 
mansion, or the mossy weather-stained tower of an old church, it be- 
comes a sort of sacrilege. Such a building daubed over and plastered 
is, next to a painted old woman, the most disgusting of all attempts at 
improvement ; on both, when left in their natural state, time often 
stamps a pleasing and venerable impression ; but when thus sophisti- 
cated, they have neither the freshness of youth, nor the mellow pic- 
turesque character of age; and, instead of becoming attractive, are 
only made horribly conspicuous. 

I am afraid it will not be easy to check the general passion for dis- 
tinctness and conspicuity. Each prospect hunter — a very numerous 
tribe — like the heroic Ajax, forms but one prayer — 

Let them see but clearly, and see enough, they are content ; and 
much may be said in their favour — composition, grouping, breadth and 
effect of light and shadow, harmony of colours, &c. are comparatively 
attended to and enjoyed by few ; but extensive prospects are the most 
popular of all views, and their respective superiority is generally de- 
cided by the number of churches and counties. Distinctness is there- 
fore the great point. A painter may wish several hills of bad shapes, 
and thousands of uninteresting acres to be covered with one general 
shade ; but to him who is to reckon up his counties, the loss of a black 
or a white spot, of a clump or a gazabo, is the loss of a voucher. 

Then, again, as the prospect-shower has great pleasure and vanity in 



pointing out these vouchers, so the improver, on his side, has full as 
much in being pointed at ; we therefore cannot wonder that so many 
churches have been converted into these beacons of taste, or that so 
many hills have been marked with them. 

[Xothing can be more detestable in taste than this mode of marking 
out distant objects. A fine ancient Gothic church may thus be utterly 
destroyed in all its most venerable associations, and one's feelings out- 
raged on a near approach to it, by beholding it converted into a dirty 
w hi ted sepulchre, for the wretchedly absurd whim of some vulgar pro- 
prietor, whose tea-canister of a house happens to stand at some miles' 
distance, and whose immense liberality of purse so overpowers the 
village rustics, that they are led to talk of nothing but the bounty of 
the Squire, "who has so handsomely done up the ould church, out of his 
own pocket ! " And nothing can be more abominable than the ignorant 
attempt of some people to make a hill more conspicuous, by putting 
some shocking nine-pin looking erection upon the summit of it. I have 
seen many instances of the prejudicial effects of this practice, but one 
most pregnant example of it continually haunts rae. As at all times I 
am unwilling to give offence, and as in this case the nobleman who was 
guilty of this atrocity in taste is no more, I shall adhere to the advice 
contained in the proverb, de mortuis nil nisi bonum. But whilst I 
sink all names, both of men and of localities, I cannot be silent as to the 
effects produced. The scene where this most unfortunate experiment 
was tried, is a wide extended highland valley, through which a noble 
Fiver finds its way. It is every where bounded by lofty elevations, and 
on one side by the highest range of mountains in Scotland. The broad 
sketch of the valley is singularly undulated and varied in its surface, 
which, in the greater part of it, is covered with forests, chiefly of pine. 
A view of it from an eminence gives one no idea of the endless ravines, 
and streams, and heights, and hollows, many of them filled with lakes, 
and the numerous other intricacies which every where present them- 
Selves to any one traversing its surface ; but there are two beautiful 
green hills, covered on their sides with birch woods, and having richly 
coloured faces of rock, and castellated crags appearing from various 
parts of their sides and tops, which rise with the loveliest forms from 
the midst of the valley, one on either side of the river, proudly pre-emi- 
nent over every other part of the lower valley. These, from their 
bold shapes, always appeared to the spectator to be even higher than 
they really were, and large as the scale is on which nature is here to be 
found, this somewhat exaggerated estimate of their magnitude, being ap- 



plied as a measure to the surrounding mountains, was even capable of 
adding, by comparison, considerably to the ideal altitude of their huge 
masses, and consequently to their sublimity. The district to which I 
allude was a favourite haunt of mine, and many happy days have I spent 
revelling in its scenery. It so happened that circumstances prevented 
me from visiting it for a considerable time — when I returned I found 
that a miserable erection had been made by the nobleman to whom I 
have alluded, on the summit of one of the two beautiful green hills I 
have mentioned. It was large and expensive, but all this was just so 
much the worse, because not knowing its actual size, it looked to me to 
be no more than about the height of a man, and my eye immediately 
measuring the hill on which it stood by that scale, it dwindled at once 
down, in my estimation, to less than one third of its real height, and 
still more when compared to the exaggerated height which it had always 
formerly maintained in my belief. But this was not the only withering 
effect of this ill-judged, ill-conceived, and ill-executed piece of art, for 
it made the twin green hill on the opposite side of the river also instan- 
taneously sink in height — the broad expanse of the valley itself, with 
all its inequalities and intricacies shrank up in its dimensions in a 
relative degree — and the very mountains, once of elevation so sublime, 
were reduced in altitude and magnitude to an extent which I could not 
have believed possible from so insignificant a cause. And there on the 
green hill top, still sits this wretched abortion, in form and apparent size 
very much resembling an old witch wrapped in her plaid, and grinning 
as it were with delight, in the consciousness that she holds the whole 
scenery of this grand and magnificent valley bound up, as it were, in 
the envious spell of apparently comparative insignificance. — E.^] 




I ti ave hitherto endeavoured to trace the picturesque in all that relates to 
form, and to the effects of light and shade ; I have endeavoured to dis- 
tinguish it from the beautiful, and from the sublime ; and to show the 
influence of- breadth on them all. It now remains to examine how far 
the same general principles operate with regard to colours. 

Mr. Burke's idea of the beautiful in colour seems to me in the high- 
est degree satisfactory, and to correspond with all his other ideas of 
beauty. I must observe, at the same time, that the beautiful in colour 
is of a positive and independent nature, whereas the sublime in colour 
is in a great degree relative, and depends on the circumstances and 
associations by which it is accompanied. A beautiful colour, is a com- 
mon and just expression ; no one hesitates whether he shall give that 
title to the leaf of a rose, or to the smallest bit of it ; but though the 
deep gloomy tint of the sky before a storm, and its effect on all nature 
be sublime, no one would call that colour, (whether a dark blue, or 
purple, or whatever it might be,) a sublime colour, if simply shown him 
without the other accompaniments. 

£Yet let us test this opinion. Let us suppose that a fragment of the 
most beautiful rose leaf that can be found shall be applied to the tip 
of the nose of a lovely young woman, in a manner so perfectly natural 



as to lead the spectator to believe that the hue is native of the spot, 
and essentially belonging to it ; how would the eyes of all strangers 
be directed askance towards it with curious inquiry — and how would 
they recoil from it as something fearfully strange and unnatural ! — 
There can be no doubt that rose-colour has acquired its beauty in the 
eyes of mankind from the immediate association which it awakens in 
every one's mind with the rich fragrance of the flower itself, as well as 
with the endless poetical images with which it has been for ages con- 
nected. The beautiful in colour is no more of a positive and indepen- 
dent nature, then, than the sublime in colour ; and the picturesque in 
colour stands, I suspect, on the same grounds as the other two. Yet I 
do not quarrel with the term as having reference to colour, more than I 
do when it has reference to form. Though it never can distinctly define 
in either, it is a convenient term of distinction in both ; and Sir Uvedale 
illustrates this, in so far as this view is concerned, with great ingenuity. 

I likewise imagine that no one would call any colour picturesque, if 
shown him in the same manner, though many of them might, without 
impropriety, be called so ; for there are many which, having nothing 
of the freshness and delicacy of beauty, are generally found in objects 
and scenes highly picturesque, and admirably accord with them. Among 
these may be reckoned the autumnal hues in all their varieties — the 
weather-stains, and many of the mosses, lichens, and incrustations on 
bark and on wood, on stones, old walls, and buildings of every kind — 
the various gradations in the tints of broken ground, and of the decayed 
parts in hollow trees. All these, which surely cannot be classed with 
the fresh greens of spring, with the various hues, at once so fresh and 
vivid, of its flowers and blossoms, or with those of the clean and healthy 
stems of young plants, may serve to point out in how many instances 
picturesque colours as well as forms arise from age and decay. There 
is, indeed, a natural prejudice in our minds against all that is produced 
by such causes ; but whoever attentively observes in nature the deep, 
rich, and mellow effect of such colours, will hardly be surprised that 
painters should have been fond of introducing them into their works, 
and sometimes to the exclusion of those of which the beauty is univer- 
sally acknowledged, and is likewise enhanced by every pleasing asso- 

Autumn, which is metaphorically applied to the decline of human 
life, when " fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf," and not the spring, 
la primacera^ci'iorcutu del anno, is generally called the painters season. 
And yet there is something so very delightful in the real charms of 



spring, as well as in the associated ideas of renewed life and vegetation, 
that it seems a perversion of our natural feelings, when we prefer to all 
its blooming hopes the first bodings of the approach of winter. Autumn 
must, therefore, have many powerful attractions, though of a different 
kind, and those intimately connected with the art of painting; for 
which reason, as the picturesque, though equally founded in nature 
with the beautiful, has been more particularly pointed out, illustrated, 
and, as it were, brought to light by that art, an inquiry into the reasons 
why autumn, and not spring, is called the painter's season, will, I ima- 
gine, give great additional insight into the distinct characters of the 
picturesque and the beautiful, especially with regard to colour. 

The colours of spring deserve the name of beauty in the truest sense 
of the word ; they have every thing that can give us that idea — fresh- 
ness, gaiety, and liveliness, with softness and delicacy ; their beauty is 
indeed of all others the most generally acknowledged, so much so, that 
from them every comparison and illustration of that character is taken. 
The tints of the flowers and blossoms, in all the nearer views, are clearly 
the most striking and attractive, but the more general impression is 
made by the freshness of that vivid green with which the fields, the 
woods, and all vegetation begins to be adorned. Besides their fresh- 
ness, the earlier trees have a remarkable lightness and transparency ; 
their new foliage serves as a decoration, not as a concealment, and 
through it the forms of their limbs are seen, as those of the human 
body under a thin drapery, while a thousand quivering lights play 
around and amidst their branches in every direction. 

But these beauties, which give to spring its peculiar character, are 
not those which are best adapted to painting. A general air of lightness 
is one of the most engaging qualities of that lovely season ; yet the 
lightness, in the earlier part, approaches to thinness ; and the transpa- 
rency of the new foliage, the thousand quivering lights, beautiful as they 
are in nature, have a tendency to produce a meagre and spotty effect 
in a picture, where breadth, and broad masses can hardly be dispensed 
with. The general colour also of spring, when April 

" Lightly o'er the living scene 
Scatters his tenderest freshest green," 

though pleasing to every eye in nature, is not equally so on the canvass ; 
especially when scattered over the general scene. Freshness also, it 
may be remarked, is in one sense simply coolness, and that idea, in some 
degree, almost always accompanies it ; and though in nature gleams of 
sunshine, from their real warmth as well as their splendour, give a tern- 



porary glow and animation to a landscape entirely green, yet even under 
the influence of such a glow, that colour would too much preponderate 
in a picture. Such a style of landscape is therefore rarely attempted — 
for who would confine himself to cold monotony, when all nature is full 
of examples of the greatest variety, with the most perfect harmony ? 

As the green of spring, from its comparative coldness, is upon the 
whole unfavourable to landscape painting, in like manner its flowers 
and blossoms, from their too distinct and splendid appearance, are apt 
to produce a glare and spottiness so destructive of that union, which is 
the very essence of a picture whether in nature or imitation. 

This effect I remember observing in a very striking degree many 
years ago, on entering Herefordshire when the fruit trees were in blos- 
som ; my expectation was much raised, for I had heard that at the time 
of the blow, the whole country from the Malvern hills looked like a 
garden. My disappointment was nearly equal to my expectation — the 
country answered to the description — it did look like a garden, but it 
made a scattered discordant landscape : the blossoms, so beautiful on a 
near view, when the different shades and gradations of their colours are 
distinguished, seemed to have lost all their richness and variety ; and 
though the scene conveyed to my mind the cheerful ideas of fruitfulness 
and plenty, I could not help feeling how defective it was in all those 
qualities and principles, on which the painter sets so high a value. 

AVhite blossoms are in one very material respect, more unfavourable 
to landscape than any others ; as white, by bringing objects too near 
the eye, disturbs the aerial perspective and the gradation of distance. 
On this subject I must beg leave to introduce to the reader some remarks 
by Mr. Locke, in Mr. Gilpin's Tour down the Wye. 

" White offers a more extended scale of light and shadow, than any 
other colour, when near ; and is more susceptible of the predominant 
tint of the air, when distant. The transparency of its shadows, (which 
in near objects partake so little of darkness that they are rather second 
lights,) discover, without injuring the principal light, all the details of 
surfaces. I partake, however, of your general dislike to the colour ; 
and though I have seen a very splendid effect from an accidental light 
on a white object, yet I think it a hue which oftener injures than it 
improves the scene. It particularly disturbs the air in its office of gra- 
duating distances — shows objects nearer than they really are — and by 
pressing them on the eye, often gives them an importance which, from 
their form, and situation, they are not entitled to. The white of snow 
is so active and refractory, as to resist the discipline of every harmonis- 
ing principle. I think I never saw Mont Blanc, and the range of snows 



which run through Savoy, in union with the rest of the landscape, ex- 
cept when they were tinged by the rays of the rising and setting sun ; 
or participated of some other tint of the surrounding sky. In the clear 
and colourless days so frequent in that country, the glaciers are always 
out of tune." 

It is impossible to read these remarks, without regretting that the 
observations of a mind so capable of enlightening the public, should be 
withheld from it ; a regret which those who have enjoyed the pleasure 
and advantage of Mr. Locke's conversation, feel in a much higher degree. 

If there be any thing in the universal range of the arts peculiarly re- 
quired to be a whole, it is a picture. In pieces of music, particular 
movements may without injury be separated from the whole; in every 
species of poetry, detached scenes, episodes, stanzas, &c. may be con- 
sidered and enjoyed by themselves ; but in a picture, the forms, tints, 
lights and shadows, all their combinations, effects, agreements, and oppo- 
sitions, are at once subjected to the eye : whatever therefore may be the 
excellence of the several parts, however beautiful the particular colours, 
however splendid the lights, if they want union, breadth, and harmony, 
the picture wants its most essential quality — it is not a whole. Accord- 
ing to my notions, therefore, it is chiefly from this circumstance of union 
and harmony, that the decaying charms of autumn often triumph in the 
painter's eye over the fresh and blooming beauties of spring. 

It must not, however, be concluded from what has been said, that the 
painter has no pleasure in any set of objects, unless they form a picture : 
the charms of spring are universally felt, and he also feels their influence, 
unless he has narrowed his mind by that art, which ought most to have 
enlarged it. The true lover of painting only adds new sources of plea- 
sure to those which are common to all mankind. This is precisely the 
case with regard to prospects — the painter adds those new sources of 
pleasure to the general and vague delight which is felt by every spec- 
tator. He enjoys equally the general beauties of nature, but from his 
quick eye, and keen relish for her more happy combinations and effects, 
he acquires a number of pleasures which may be dwelt upon, when the 
first enchanting, but vague delight of spring is diminished. 

Such indeed are the charms of reviving nature, such the profusion of 
fresh, gay, and beautiful colours and of sweets, united with the ideas of 
fruitfulness, that they absorb for the moment all other considerations : 
and on a genial day in spring, and in a place where all its charms are 
displayed, every man, whose mind is not insensible or depraved, must 
feel the full force of that exclamation of Adam, when he first awakened 
to the pleasure of existence ; 



" With fragrance and with joy my heart o'erflowM.''' 
I have now mentioned what seem to me the principal beauties and 
defects of the earlier part of spriug, at which time, however, the pecu- 
liar character of that season is most striking ; for as it advances, and 
the leaves are more and more expanded, they no longer retain their 
vernal hue, their gloss of youth ; and the trees in the height of summer, 
lose perhaps as much in the freshness, variety, and lightness of their 
foliage, as they gain in the general fulness of it, and the superior size of 
their leaves. 

The midsummer shoot is the first thing that gives relief to the eye, 
after the sameness of colour which immediately precedes it. In many 
trees, and in none more than the oak, the effect is singularly beautiful ; 
the old foliage forms a dark background, on which the new appears, 
relieved and detached in all its freshness and brilliancy — it is spring en- 
grafted upon summer. This effect, however, is confined to the nearer 
objects ; the great general change in all vegetation is produced by the 
first frosts of autumn. It is then that the more uniform green of summer, 
is succeeded by a variety of rich glowing tints, which so admirably 
accord with each other, and form so splendid a mass of colouring, so 
superior in depth and richness, to that of any other part of the year. 

It has often struck me, that the whole system of the Venetian colour - 
ing, particularly that of Giorgione and Titian, was formed upon the tints 
of autumn, whence their pictures have that golden hue, which gives them 
such a superiority over all others. Their trees, foregrounds, and every 
part of their landscapes, have more strongly, than those of any other 
painters, the deep and rich browns of that season — the same general 
hue prevails in the draperies, and even in the flesh of their figures, 
which has neither the silver purity of Guido, nor the freshness of 
Rubens, but a glow perhaps more enchanting than either. Sir Joshua 
Reynolds has remarked, that the silver purity of Guido is more suited 
to beauty than the glowing golden hue of Titian. It was natural for 
him to mention Guido, as being the painter who had most succeeded in 
beauty of form ; but with less of his purity and evenness of tint, there 
is a freshness in that of Rubens, which would admirably accord with 
beauty, though there are but few instances in his works of such a union. 

A strong proof that the same general hue prevailed in the whole of 
any one work of Titian, is to be found in his Ganymede, in the 
Colonna palace, to which, by the order of the old Cardinal, Carlo 
Maratt put a new sky of the same tone as those in his own pictures ; 
and I may say, that none but such a cold insipid artist could have 
borne to execute, what such gross unfeeling ignorance had commanded. 



Such a sky would have been a severe trial to the flesh of any warm 
picture, but it makes that of the Ganymede appear almost black, which 
certainly would not have been the case, if it had been painted by 
k'ubens or Correggio. 

I have observed in a former part, that if any one of the qualities 
which Mr. Burke has so justly ascribed to beauty, be more essential 
khan the others, it is freshness; and it is that which makes the most 
distinct line of separation between the beautiful and picturesque in 
colouring. I should, on that account, even if I were not supported by 
the authority of Sir Joshua Reynolds, be inclined to call the Venetian 
style of colouring, and that of Mola, of Domenico Feti, and others who 
have imitated it, the picturesque style, as being formed upon the deep 
and glowing tints of autumn, and not upon the fresh and delicate colours 
of spring ; and although this Venetian colouring may not upon the 
whole be so congenial to the sublime, as the severer styles of the Roman 
and Florentine schools, yet it is much more so, than the fresh and sen- 
sual tints of Rubens, or the silvery tone of Guido ; and in this it 
accords with the general character of the picturesque, which more 
readily mixes with the sublime than the beautiful does. I am here 
speaking solely of the tints of Rubens, especially those of his women 
and children, without any reference to the forms or the dispositions of 
his figures, or the richness of his dresses and decorations, on account of 
which Sir Joshua Reynolds has classed him with the Venetians, as be- 
longing to the ornamental, and, in that respect, the picturesque style. 
Sometimes, also, the grandest effects have arisen from the broken tints 
of the Venetian painters — effects that are displayed in their highest 
perfection in the backgrounds and skies of Titian, and which, in those 
parts of the picture, could not be produced by the unbroken and dis- 
tinct colours of the Roman school. Claude always mixed a much 
larger proportion of cool, fresh colours in his landscapes, than the 
Venetians did in theirs. In some of his early pictures, those cool tints 
prevail too much, and give them a cold sickly appearance ; his best 
works, however, are entirely free from that, as well as the opposite 
defect, and his authority for the due proportion of cool and warm 
colours which beauty requires, is as high as any man's can be ; for no 
one studied beauty more diligently, more successfully, or for a greater 
number of years. 

In many of Rubens' works we distinguish the freshness of the early 
season of the year ; and the whole of that well-known picture of the 
Duke of Rutland's, has the spring-like hue of those flowers, which with 
so isi\y and spring-like a profusion, yet still with a painter's judgment, 



he has thrown about it. But when Titian introduces flowers, they are 
made to accord with his genera] principle ; they are not the children of 
spring, they seem to belong to a later season ; for he spreads over them 
an autumnal hue and atmosphere, which would make even Rubens' 
flowers, much more those of a mere flower painter, look raw in com- 

This leads me to observe, that it is not only the change of vegetation 
which gives to autumn its golden hue, but also the atmosphere itself, 
and the lights and shadows which then prevail. Spring has its light 
and flitting clouds, with shadows equally flitting and uncertain ; refresh- 
ing showers, with gay and genial bursts of sunshine, that seem suddenly 
to call forth and to nourish the young buds and flowers. In autumn all 
is matured ; and the rich hues of the ripened fruits, and of the changing 
foliage, are rendered still richer by the warm haze, which, on a fine 
day in that season, spreads the last varnish over every part of the pic- 
ture. In winter, the trees and woods, from their total loss of foliage, 
have so lifeless and meagre an appearance, so different from the fresh- 
ness of spring, the fulness of summer, and the richness of autumn, that 
many, not insensible to the beauties of scenery at other times, scarcely 
look at it during that season. But the contracted circle which the sun 
then describes, however unwished for on every other consideration, is 
of great advantage with respect to breadth; for then, even the mid-day 
lights and shadows, from their horizontal direction, are so striking, and 
the parts so finely illuminated, and yet so connected and filled up 
by them, that I have many times forgotten the nakedness of the 
trees, from admiration of the general masses. In summer, the exact 
reverse is as often the case ; the rich clothing of the parts makes a 
faint impression, from the vague and general glare of light without 

QWhen we talk comparatively of the seasons, I think we may natu- 
rally enough give the name of the picturesque to that of autumn ; for 
as it affords greater facilities to the art of painting, so it holds out 
greater provocatives to its professors, and, consequently, its tones of 
colour are those which have been most usually adopted by the greatest 
masters, to give character and effect to their works. But when we 
view the seasons without regard to art at all — and entirely as they 
may affect us through the medium of association — we find the sources 
of our individual gratification to be as various as are our opinions. 
Spring, in all the pictures — animate as well as inanimate, which it 
produces — is associated in all men's minds with the tenderness and in- 
nocence of youth, and with all those anxieties with which the heart is 

14 4 


filled from the consideration of the many perils to which its delicacy is 
exposed. For, 

u As yet the trembling year is unconfirmed, 
And winter oft at eve resumes the breeze — 
Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets 
Deform the day delightless." 

But then, as when beholding budding youth, human bosoms are most 
filled with fair hopes, in despite of all that human experience which has, 
with dull uniformity, proved such hopes to be nought — so likewise 
docs it too often happen, that those which we cherish regarding the 
promises of the young spring may be equally fallacious. But when, 

" At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun, 
And the bright Bull receives him ; then no more 
The expansive atmosphere is cramp'd with cold — 
But, full of life, and vivifying soul, 
Lifts the light clouds sublime, and spreads them thin, 
Fleecy and white, o'er all-surrounding Heaven." 

Then, indeed, the earth begins to teem with verdure, and all nature 
becomes animated with universal joy. Then, 

" Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields, 
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops 
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze 
Of sweet-brier hedges I pursue my walk ; 
. Or taste the smell of dairy ; or ascend 
Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains, 
And see the country, far diffused around — 
One boundless blush — one white-empurpled shower 
Of mingled blossoms, where the raptured eye 
Hurries from joy to joy." 

Is not that man to be pitied who could stop in such a walk as 
this, to have the bounding delight of his bosom checked and cramped 
by the recollection that it may have nothing in it favourable for the 
artist? And who is there who would not have every fountain within 
his heart opened in a sympathetic gush of joy like that of Nature her- 
self, by so rich a combination of rural sweets as spring presents, thus 
rejoicing in their new life beneath his eye ? Yes — there are some 
with whom all this gladness of the birth of Nature may but excite a 
deeper melancholy. Such will be its effect on the mind of him who is 
conscious of watching his own gradual decay — and, instead of joy, it 
must only awaken an acuter pang of misery in the breast of the un- 
fortunate who is the victim of some severe mortal affliction. We thus 



see that the beauties of spring have no other charms than those which 
may be reflected from the mind of man himself. 

Summer seems to be less likely to excite very powerful associations, 
either of an intensely pleasing or painful description. The burst of 
nature is over — the growth of plants and tress is less prominently ap- 
parent — the appearance of to-day is liker that of yesterday than was 
tiie case with the same successive portions of time during the more 
rapid vegetation of spring. The sky is more serene, and, at the same 
time, more monotonous in its effects — and if it be a real summer, 
such as Thomson describes, the heat of the sun is so potent as to be 
oppressive — to so great an extent, indeed, as to induce an indolence 
of disposition, arising from a bodily and mental lassitude. Then is the 
time for the calmness and the quiet of lazy speculation, and so, in 
perfect listlessness, 

'• Let rue haste into the mid-wood shade, 
Where scarce a sunbeam wanders through the gloom, 
And on the dark-green grass, beside the brink 
Of haunted stream, that by the roots of oak 
Rolls o'er the rocky channel, lie at large." 

Or let me, in dreamy meditation, 

u Sit on rocks, and muse o'er flood and fell." 

I admit that all seasons are capable of producing individual associa- 
tions with Nature. But. laying aside all such, I should say, in a gene- 
ral point of view, that these are the natural effects of summer. 
But autumn, 

" Crown 'd with the sickle and the wheaten sheaf," 

comes with ten thousand charms, for the young, who, regardless of the 
lesson which it is continually teaching to frail mortality, rejoice in the 
liberty which that season generally brings round to them — when they 
revel in its fruits — are cheered by the jocund labours of its harvests — - 
and are excited by the animating field-sports which its season brings 
round to them — whilst the bright sun, tempered by a cool and in- 
vigorating air. gives elasticity and renewed action to every thing that 
has life, and whilst the effects of sky are splendid and ever varying. 
The rich hues of the woods, too, whilst they are in full harmony with 
such feelings, are rendered doubly pleasing by having been always 
intimately connected in the minds of the young with all these delight- 
ful gratifications. But with him to whom the tints of autumn afford 
no other association than that which they have with the decay of 
human life, the season only returns as a melancholy memento that 



another year is silently departing over his head, and bringing him — 
though perhaps with insensible steps — gradually nearer and nearer to 
his grave. It is in the spring and in the autumn that such thoughts 
are most peculiarly apt to be awakened ; for they are not so likely to 
be excited by the sameness of summer, when the growth of Nature 
may be said to be at maturity, and when, as regards the year, she may 
be said to be in her middle age. 

The mind may be expected again to recover somewhat of the quiet- 
ness and equality of its tone when winter has fairly set in, when the 
fleeting beauties of nature may be said to have expired. Then man 
becomes prepared to enjoy the socialities of intellectual life ; and 
though winter does come 

" To rule the varying year 
Sullen and sad, with all his rising train — 
Vapours, and clouds, and storms," — 


" Comes the father of the tempest forth, 
Wrapp'd in black glooms," — 

And, above all, when 

" Through the hush'd air the whitening shower descends," 


" The cherish"d fields 
Put on their winter-robe of purest white," 

it may be matter of doubt whether the conscious anticipation of the 
coming comfort, to be enjoyed in the domestic circle, by the bickering 
winter's hearth, in talk and tales of other times with those we like, 
may not give such a zest to our bracing country walk as may make 
even it more truly agreeable than that of summer. And how grateful 
does the well constituted mind then become to a good Providence for 
having thus bestowed the means for so viewing this otherwise dreary 
season ! And how readily is it prepared to alleviate the wants of 
those for whom the Almighty has been pleased to provide more 
scantily, and who consequently look with shivering terror, and ap- 
prehensive desolation of face, upon every fresh stride which the bleak 
and howling wintry storms make in their advance. 

Thus we may see, from these few desultory reflections, how much 
our estimation of the beauty of the seasons depends upon our indivi- 
dual circumstances and feelings, as well as upon those which belong to 
us more in common with mankind in general — so that the cheerfulness 
or the melancholy which each of them may produce, is but a cheerful- 
ness or a melancholy which is merely a reflected image of that which 
wo bear within us. — E.] 




I have endeavoured to the best of my abilities, and according to the 
observations I have made in a long habit of reflection on the subject, 
to trace the ideas we have of the picturesque, through the different 
works of art and nature ; and it appears to me, that in all objects of 
sight, in buildings, trees, water, ground, in the human species, and in 
other animals, the same general principles uniformly prevail, and that 
even light and shadow, and colours, have the strongest conformity to 
those principles. I have compared both its causes and effects with 
those of the sublime and the beautiful ; I have shown its distinctness 
from them both, and in what that distinctness consists. 

I may perhaps, however, be able to throw some additional light on 
the subject, by considering two qualities the most opposite to beauty — 
those of ugliness and deformity ; by showing in what points they differ 
from each other, and under what circumstances they may form a union 
with other qualities and characters. According to Mr. Burke, those 
objects are the ugliest which approach most nearly to angular,'"' but I 
think he would scarcely have given that opinion, if he had thought it 
worth while to investigate so ungrateful a subject as that of ugliness, 

* Sublime and Beautiful, p. 217. 

1 48 


with the same attention as that of beauty ; for, if his position he true, 
the leaves of the plane-tree and the vine are among the ugliest of the 
vegetable kingdom. 

It seems to me, that mere unmixed ugliness does not arise from sharp 
angles, or from any sudden variation, hut rather from that want of form, 
that unshapen lumpish appearance, which, perhaps, no one word exactly 
expresses ; a quality (if what is negative may be so called) which never 
can he mistaken for beauty, never can adorn it, and which is equally 
unconnected with the sublime and the picturesque. The remains of 
Grecian sculpture afford us the most generally acknowledged models 
of beauty of form, in its most exquisitely finished state ; if this be 
granted, every change that could be made in such models must be a 
diminution of the perfect character of beauty, and an approach to- 
wards some other. Were an artist, for instance, to model, in any 
soft material, a head from the Venus or the Apollo, and then, by way 
of experiment, to make the nose longer or sharper, rising more suddenly 
towards the middle, or strongly aquiline — were he to give a striking 
projection to the eye-brow, or to interrupt, by some marked deviation, 
the flowing outline of the face — though he would destroy beauty, yet 
he might create character, and something grand or picturesque might 
be produced by such a trial. But let him take the contrary method, 
let him clog and fill up all those nicely marked variations of which 
beauty is the result — ugliness, and that only, must be the consequence. 
Should he. proceed still further with his experiment — should he twist 
the mouth, make the nose awry, of a preposterous size, and place warts 
and carbuncles upon it, or wens and excrescences on other parts of the 
face, he would then graft deformity upon ugliness. 

Deformity is to ugliness what picturesqueness is to beauty — though 
distinct from it, and in many cases arising from opposite causes, it is 
often mistaken for it, often accompanies it, and greatly heightens its 
effect. Ugliness alone is merely disagreeable — by the addition of de- 
formity it becomes hideous — by that of terror it may become sublime. 
All these are mixed in the 

« Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum." 

Deformity in itself, however, has no connection with the sublime, and, 
when terror can be produced by circumstances of a more elevated cha- 
racter, may even injure its effect. Death, for instance, is commonly 
painted as a skeleton ; but Milton, in his famous description, has made 
no allusion to that deformity (if it may be called so) which is usual in 
the representation of the king of terrors, possibly from judging that its 



distinctness would take off from that mysterious uncertainty which has 
rendered his picture so awfully sublime. 

" The other shape, 
If shape it might be calTd, which shape had none 
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb ; 
Or substance might be call'd, which shadow seem'd, 
For each seem'd either ; black it stood as night, 
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell, 
And shook a deadly dart ; what seem'd his head. 
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.' 1 

The union of deformity with beauty is, from the contrast, more 
striking than any other ; but it is in the same proportion disgusting, 
and, so far from raising any grand ideas, has rather a tendency to 
excite those that are ludicrous. Such, I think, it appears in the de- 
scription of Scylla in the Metamorphoses, and of Sin in Paradise Lost. 

As deformity consists of some striking and unnatural deviation from 
what is usual in the shape of the face or body, or of a similar addition 
to it, all lines, of whatever description they may be, will equally pro- 
duce it. Mr. Burke's opinion of flowing lines as producing beauty, and 
of angular lines as producing ugliness, has been mentioned ; and those 
who are of his way of thinking, must probably object to the Grecian 
nose as too straight, and as forming too sharp an angle with the rest of the 
face. AVhether the Greek artists were right or not, their practice shows, 
that, in their opinion, straight lines, and what nearly approach to angles, 
were not merely compatible with beauty, but that the effect of the whole 
would thence be more attractive, than by a continual sweep and flow 
of outline in every part. The application of this to modern gardening 
is too obvious to be enforced. It is the highest of all authority against 
continued flow of outline, even where beauty of form is the only object. 

The symmetry and proportion of hills and mountains, are not marked 
out and ascertained like those of the human figure ; but the general 
principles of beauty and ugliness, of picturesqueness and deformity, are 
easily to be traced in them, though not in so striking and obvious a 

Those hills and mountains which nearly approach to angles, are often 
called beautiful — seldom, I believe, ugly ; and when their size and 
colour are diminished and softened by distance, they accord with the 
softest and most pleasing scenes, and compose the distance of some of 
Claude's most polished landscapes. The ugliest forms of hills, if my 
ideas be just, are those which arc lumpish, and, as it were, unformed ; 
such, for instance, as from one of the ugliest and most shapeless animals 


are called pig-backed. When the summits of any of these are notched 
into paltry divisions, or have such insignificant risings upon them as 
appear like knobs or bumps ; or when any improver lias imitated those 
knobs or knotches, by means of patches and clumps, they are then both 
ugly and deformed. 

The ugliest ground is that which has neither the beauty of smoothness, 
verdure, and gentle undulation, nor the picturesqueness of bold and 
sudden breaks, and varied tints of soil : of such kind is ground that has 
been disturbed, and left in that unfinished state — as in a rough ploughed 
field run to sward. Such also are the slimy shores of a flat tide river, 
or the sides of a mountain stream in summer, composed merely of loose 
stones, uniformly continued, without any mould or vegetation. The 
steep shores of rivers, where the tide rises at times to a great height, 
and leaves promontories of slime ; and those on which torrents among 
the mountains leave huge shapeless heaps of stones, may certainly lay 
claim to some mixture of deformity, which is often mistaken for another 
character. Nothing, indeed, is more common than to hear persons who 
come from a tame cultivated country (and not those only) mistake 
barrenness, desolation, and deformity, for grandeur and picturesqueness. 

It might be supposed, on the other hand, that the being continually 
among picturesque scenes, would of itself, and without any assistance 
from pictures, lead to a distinguishing taste for them. Unfortunately 
it often leads to a perfect indifference for that style, and to a preference 
for something directly opposite. 

I once walked over a very romantic place in Wales, with the pro- 
prietor, and strongly expressed how much I was struck with it, and, 
among the rest, with several natural cascades. He was quite uneasy 
at the pleasure I felt, and seemed afraid I should waste my admiration. 
" Don't stop at these things," said he, " I will show you by and by 
one worth seeing." At last we came to a part where the brook was con- 
ducted down three long steps of hewn stone, — " There," said he, with 
great triumph, " that was made by Edwards, who built Pont y pridd, 
and it is reckoned as neat a piece of mason-work as any in the country." 

£But I can say, that this is by no means generally the effect pro- 
duced by an early residence among fine scenery ; for I can myself 
enumerate many cases, where I can trace the formation of the gusto 
pittoresco, to early association with such scenery. — E.]] 

Deformity in ground is, indeed, less obvious than in other objects. 
Deformity seems to be something that did not originally belong to the 
object in which it exists — something strikingly and unnaturally dis- 
agreeable, and not softened by those circumstances which often make it 



picturesque. The side of a smooth greeu hill, torn by floods, may at 
first very properly be called deformed ; and on the same principle, 
though not with the same impression, as a gash on a living animal. 
When the rawness of such a gash in the ground is softened, and 
in part concealed and ornamented by the effects of time and the pro- 
gress of vegetation, deformity, by this usual process, is converted into 
picturesqueness ; and this is the case with quarries, gravel-pits, &c, 
which at first are deformities, and which, in their most picturesque 
state, are often considered as such by a levelling improver. Large 
heaps of mould or stones, when they appear strongly, and without any 
connection or concealment, above the surface of the ground, may also 
at first be considered as deformities, and may equally become pic- 
turesque by the same process. 

[_l have known many instances of such happy conversions by the 
hand of Taste, and, among others, I may notice a quarry at the Earl 
of Dunmore's seat of Dunmore Park, in Stirlingshire. The freestone 
for building the house was taken from it ; but the quarriers had no 
sooner left off their operations, than, by the judicious planting of trees, 
shrubs, and creeping plants, it has been converted into a delightfully 
retired wilderness of sweets, the effect of which is much enhanced by 
the circumstance of its being in the midst of one of the most beautiful 
woods which can any where be met with. But I have seen nature do 
this for herself in the happiest way, though she required more time for 
the completion of her work, when altogether unassisted. It frequently 
happens, that when the rock has been extensively worked out of a 
quarry, springs have been laid bare, which fill the deeper parts of the 
excavations with the purest water, around the irregular margins of 
which, aquatic plants shoot up among the rubbish, a happy circumstance, 
which I have often seen add greatly to the wild charms of such a spot. 

This connection between picturesqueness and deformity cannot be 
too much studied by improvers, and, among other reasons, from motives 
of economy. There are in many places deep hollows and broken 
ground not immediately in view, which do not interfere with any sweep 
of lawn necessary to be kept open — to fill up and level these, would 
often be difficult and expensive — to dress and adorn them costs little 
trouble or money. Even in the most smooth and polished scenes, they 
may often be so masked by plantations, and so united with them, as to 
blend with the general scenery at a distance, and to produce great 
novelty and variety when approached. 

The same distinctions which have been remarked in other objects, 

1 52 


are equally observable in trees. The ugliest, are not those in which 
the branches — whether from nature or accident — make sudden angles, 
but such as are shapeless from having been long pressed by others, or 
from having been regularly and repeatedly stripped of their boughs 
before they were allowed to grow on. Trees that are torn by winds, 
or shattered by lightning, are deformed, and at first very strikingly so; 
and as the crudeness of such deformity is gradually softened by new 
boughs and foliage, they often become in a high degree picturesque. 

In buildings and other artificial objects, the same principles operate 
in the same manner. The ugliest buildings are those which have no 
feature, no character; those, in short, which most nearly approach to 
the shape, " if shape it may be called," of a clamp of brick, the ugliness 
of which no one will dispute. It is melancholy to reflect on the number 
of houses in this kingdom that seem to have been built on that model ; 
and if they are less ugly, it is chiefly owing to the sharpness of their 
angles, and to their having, on that account, something more of a de- 
cided and finished form. The term which most expresses what is shape- 
less, is that of a lump ; and it generally indicates what is detached from 
other objects, what is without any variation of parts in itself, or any 
material difference in length, breadth, or height — a sort of equality that 
appears best to accord with the monotony of ugliness. Still, however, 
as what is most conspicuous has the most extensive influence whether 
in good or in bad, a tall building, cwter is paribus, may perhaps contend 
for the palm of ugliness. When I consider the striking natural 
beauties of such a river as that at Matlock, and the effect of the seven- 
story buildings that have been raised there, and on other beautiful 
streams, for cotton manufactories, I am inclined to think that nothing 
can equal them for the purpose of dis-beautifying an enchanting piece of 
scenery ; and that economy had produced, what the greatest ingenuity, 
if a prize were given for ugliness, could not surpass. They are so 
placed, that they contaminate the most interesting views ; and so tall, 
that there is no escaping from them in any part ; and in that respect 
they have the same unfortunate advantage over a squat building, that 
a stripped elm has over a pollard willow. As in buildings there is no 
general or usual form, to which, as in the human race, we can refer, 
deformity is in them not so immediately obvious. Many buildings are 
erected, and then added to, as more space was wanted, without any 
plan ; in others, the same kind of irregularity is originally designed ; 
and all these an admirer of pure architecture would probably condemn 
as deformed, though they are in general considered as only irregular. 
Where, however, the architecture is regular, if any part be taken away 



so as to interrupt the symmetry, or any thing added that has no connec- 
tion with its character, the building is manifestly deformed. I have here 
supposed that the building, whether a part be taken away, or a part 
added, is left in an entire and finished state, and that the deformity 
solely arises from the destruction of its symmetry ; for any breach or 
chasm in a finished building, whether regular or irregular, must always 
be a deformity. Ruins, therefore, of all kinds, are at first deformed ; 
and afterwards, by means of vegetation and of various effects of time 
and accident, become picturesque. 

With respect to colours, it appears to me that as transparency is one 
essential quality of beauty, so the want of transparency, or what may 
be termed muddiness, is the most general and efficient cause of ugliness. 
A colour, for instance, may be harsh, glaring, tawdry, yet please many 
eyes, and by some be called beautiful ; but a muddy colour, no one ever 
was pleased with, or honoured with that title. If this idea be just, 
there seems to be as much analogy between the causes of ugliness in 
colour, and in form, as the two cases could well admit. In the first, 
ugliness is said to arise from the thickening of what should be pure and 
transparent ; in the second, from clogging and filling up those nicely 
marked variations, of which beauty and purity of outline are the result. 
It is hardly necessary to say, that I have here been speaking of colours 
as considered separately ; not of those numberless beauties and effects, 
which are produced by their numberless connections and oppositions. 

Ugliness, like beauty, has no prominent features — it is in some de- 
gree regular and uniform, and at a distance, and even on a slight in- 
spection, is not immediately striking. Deformity, like picturesqueness, 
makes a quicker impression, and, the moment it appears, strongly 
rouses the attention. On this principle, ugly music is what is composed 
according to rule and common proportion, but which has neither that 
selection of sweet and softly varying melody and modulation which 
answers to the beautiful, nor that marked character, those sudden and 
masterly changes, which correspond with the picturesque. If such 
music be executed in the same style in which it is composed, it will 
cause no strong emotion, but if played out of tune, it will become 
deformed, and every such deformity will make the musical hearer start. 
The enraged musician stops both his ears against the deformity of those 
sounds, which Hogarth has so powerfully conveyed to us through 
another sense as almost to justify the bold expression of iEsehylus, 
dzdooza xtwov. Mere ugliness in visible objects is looked upon without 
any violent emotion ; but deformity, in any strong degree, would pro- 
bably cause the same sort of action in the beholder as in Hogarth's musi- 



cian, by making him afraid to trust singly to those means of exclusion 
which nature has placed over the sight. 

The picturesque, when mixed with the sublime or the beautiful, has 
been already considered ; it will be found as frequently mixed with 
ugliness, and when so mixed will appear to be perfectly consistent with 
all that has been mentioned of its effects and qualities. Ugliness, like 
beauty, in itself is not picturesque, for it has, simply considered, no 
strongly marked features ; but, when the last mentioned character is 
added either to beauty or to ugliness, they become more striking and 
varied, and, whatever may be the sensations they excite, they always, 
by means of that addition, more strongly attract the attention. We 
are amused and occupied by ugly objects, if they be also picturesque, 
just as we are by a rough, and in other respects a disagreeable mind, 
provided it has a marked and peculiar character; without it, mere 
outward ugliness, or mere inward rudeness, are simply disagreeable. 
An ugly man or woman, with an aquiline nose, high cheek bones, 
beetle brows, and strong lines in every part of the face, is, from these 
picturesque circumstances, which might all be taken away without 
destroying ugliness, much more strikingly ugly, than a man with no 
more features than an oyster. It is ugliness of this . kind which may 
very justly be styled picturesque ugliness ; and it is that which has 
been most frequently represented on the canvass. Those who have been 
used to admire such picturesque ugliness in painting, will look with 
pleasure (for we have no other word to express the degree or character 
of that sensation) at the original in nature ; and one cannot think 
slightly of the power and advantage of that art which makes its ad- 
mirers often gaze with such delight on some ancient lady, as, by the 
help of a little vanity, might perhaps lead her to mistake the motive. 

A celebrated anatomist is said to have declared, that he had received 
in his life more pleasure from dead than from living women. This 
might, perhaps, be brought as a similar, though a stronger instance of 
perverted taste ; but I never heard of any painter having made the 
same declaration with respect to age and youth. Whatever may be 
the future refinements of painting and anatomy, I believe young and 
live women will never have reason to be jealous of old or dead rivals. 

As the excess of those qualities which chiefly constitute beauty pro- 
duces insipidity, so likewise the excess of those which constitute pictu- 
resqueness produces deformity. These mutual relations may be suffi- 
ciently obvious in inanimate objects, yet, perhaps, they will be more 
clearly perceived if we consider them in the human countenance, sup- 
posing the general form of the countenance to remain the same, and 



only what may in some measure be considered as the accompaniments 
to be changed. 

Suppose, then, what is no uncommon style or degree of beauty, a 
woman with fine features, but the character of whose eyes, eyebrows, 
hair, and complexion, are more striking and showy than delicate. 
Imagine, then, the same features, with the eyebrows less marked, and 
both those and the hair of the head of a softer texture, the general 
glow of complexion changed to a more delicate gradation of white and 
red, the skin more smooth and even, and the eyes of a milder colour 
and expression ; you would by this change take off from the striking, 
the showy effect, but such a face would have, in a greater degree, that 
finished delicacy, which even those who might prefer the showy style, 
would allow to be more in unison with the idea of beauty, and the 
other would appear comparatively coarse and unfinished. If we go on 
still further, and suppose hardly any mark of eyebrow — the hair, from 
the lightness of its colour, and from the silky softness of its quality, 
giving scarce any idea of roughness — the complexion of a pure and 
almost transparent whiteness, with hardly a tinge of red — the eyes of 
the mildest blue, and the expression equally mild — you would then 
approach very nearly to insipidity, but still without destroying beauty ; 
on the contrary, such a form, when irradiated by a mind of equal 
sweetness and purity, united with sensibility, has something angelic, 
and seems further removed from what is earthly and material. This 
shows how much softness, smoothness, and delicacy, even when carried 
to an extreme degree, are congenial to beauty. On the other hand, it 
must be owned, that where the only agreement between such a form 
and the soul which inhabits it is want of character and animation, no- 
thing can be more completely vapid than the whole composition. 

If we now return to the same point at which we began, and conceive 
the eyebrows more strongly marked, the hair rougher in its effect and 
quality, the complexion more dusky and gipsy-like, the skin of a coarser 
grain, with some moles on it, a degree of cast in the eyes, but so slight 
as only to give archness and peculiarity of countenance — this, without 
altering the proportion of the features, would take off from beauty what 
it gave to character and picturesqueness. If we go one step farther, 
and increase the eyebrows to a preposterous size — the cast into a squint 
— make the skin scarred, and deeply pitted with the small-pox — the 
complexion full of spots — and increase the moles into excrescences — it 
will plainly appear how close the connection is between beauty and 
insipidity, and between picturesqueness and deformity, and what " thin 
partitions do their bounds divide." 



The whole of this applies most exactly to improvements. The ge- 
neral features of a place remain the same — the accompaniments only 
are changed, but with them its character. If the improver, as it usu- 
ally happens, attends solely to verdure, smoothness, undulation of 
ground, and flowing lines, the whole will be insipid. If the opposite 
and much rarer taste should prevail — should an improver, by way of 
being picturesque, make broken ground, pits, and quarries all about his 
place — encourage nothing but furze, briers, and thistles — heap quanti- 
tities of rude stones on his banks — or, to crown all, like Mr. Kent, 
plant dead trees '" — the deformity of such a place would, I believe, be 
very generally allowed, though the insipidity of the other might not 
be so readily confessed. 

I may here remark, that though picturesqueness and deformity are, 
by their etymology, so strictly confined to the sense of seeing, yet there 
is in the other senses a most exact resemblance to their effects ; this is 
the case,- not only in that of hearing, of which so many examples have 
been given, but in the more contracted senses of tasting and smelling, 
and the progress I have mentioned is in them also equally plain and 
obvious. It can hardly be doubted, that what answers to the beautiful 
in the sense of tasting, has smoothness and sweetness for its basis, with 
such a degree of stimulus as enlivens, but does not overbalance those 
qualities — such, for instance, as in the most delicious fruits and liquors. 
Take away the stimulus, they become insipid — increase it, so as to 
overbalance those qualities, they then gain a peculiarity of flavour, are 
eagerly sought after by those who have acquired a relish for them, but 
are less adapted to the general palate. This corresponds exactly with 
the picturesque ; but if the stimulus be increased beyond that point, 
none but depraved and vitiated palates will endure what would be so 
justly termed deformity in objects of sight. The sense of smelling has 
in this, as in all other respects, the closest conformity to that of tasting. 
The old maxim of the schools, de gustibus non est disputdndum, is 
by many extended to all tastes, and claimed as a sort of privilege not 
to have any of theirs called in question. It is certainly very reasonable 
that a man should be allowed to indulge his eye, as well as his palate, 
in his own way ; but, if he happened to have a taste for water-gruel 
without salt, he should not force it upon his guests as the perfection of 
cookery ; or burn their insides, if, like the King of Prussia, he loved 
nothing but what was spiced enough to turn a living man into a 

* Vide Mr. Walpole's Essay on Modern Gardening. 



These are the chief arguments that have occurred to me for giving 
to the picturesque a distinct character. I have had the satisfaction of 
finding many persons high in the public estimation of my sentiment ; 
and, among them, some of the most eminent artists, both professors and 
dilettanti. On the other hand, I must allow, that there are persons 
whose opinion carries great weight with it, who, in reality, hold the 
two words beautiful and picturesque to be synonymous, though they 
do not say so in express terms : with those, however, I do not mean 
to argue at present, though well prepared for battle. Others there are 
who allow, indeed, that the words have a different meaning, but deny 
that there is any distinct character of the picturesque ; to those, before 
I close this part of my essay, I shall offer a few reflections. 

Taking it then for granted that the two terms are not synonymous, 
the word picturesque must have some appropriate meaning ; and, there- 
fore, when any person chooses to call a figure or a scene picturesque, 
rather than beautiful, lie must have some reason for that choice. The 
definitions which have been given of picturesque appear to me very 
vague and unsatisfactory. Instead of attempting any other, I will do 
what perhaps may be of more service in ascertaining its meaning — I 
will endeavour to account for the introduction of a word into modern 
languages, which has nothing that in the smallest degree corresponds 
with it in those of the ancients. The two classes of visible objects 
which have been distinguished by the titles of the sublime and the 
beautiful, have, in all ages, and in all countries, long before the inven- 
tion of the art of painting, excited the emotions of astonishment, and 
of pleasure : it seems natural, therefore, that such objects, when their 
true character was fully and happily expressed in painting, should at 
once have been felt and acknowledged to be the same which had so 
often struck ami pleased them in reality ; and that the emotions, 
though less powerful, should have been of a similar kind. Such, pro- 
bably was the case, with this difference, however — that the character 
and qualities of beauty lose much less of their effect from being repre- 
sented on the reduced scale of a picture than those of grandeur, and 
are likewise more familiar, ami more immediately obvious to the bulk 
of mankind — on which accounts, I shall chiefly confine myself to them 
in the present discussion. These two classes of objects, though so dis- 
tinct from each other, have one common relation — that of having had 
at all times a powerful and universal influence ; and, in that point of 
view, may be considered as one general division ; while another may, 
in the same manner, be formed of those objects which seem to have 
excited little or no interest or attention, till they were brought into 



notice, and the principles on which they deserved to excite it, had 
been pointed out by the revived art of painting, and particularly that 
of landscape painting. It is well known how vague and licentious 
a use is made of the word beautiful ; but I think it will be allowed 
that no qualities so truly accord with our ideas of it as those which are 
in a high degree expressive of youth, health, and vigour, whether in 
animal or vegetable life — the chief of which qualities are smoothness 
and softness in the surface — fulness and undulation in the outline — 
symmetry in the parts — and clearness and freshness in the colour. No 
one can well doubt that these are essential qualities of beauty, who 
considers what must be the consequence of substituting those of an op- 
posite kind ; but if any one should ask — and it has been doubted by a 
writer of high reputation on these subjects* — whether they are suited 
to the painter, the question may be answered by another — by asking, 
what is the rank which Guido, Albano, and Correggio hold among 
painters ? Raphael, the first name among the moderns, who had 
grandeur and dignity of character more constantly in view than any of 
the last mentioned painters, was very far from neglecting beauty, or 
the qualities assigned to it ; and if we go back to the ancients, what 
were the pictures most highly admired while they existed, and whose 
fame is now as fresh as ever ? The Helen of Zeuxis, and the Venus 
of Apelles, in which no qualities could have had place, except such 
as accorded with beauty in its strictest sense. 

From the ideas which we are well justified in forming to ourselves of 
those paintings, it seems probable that the delight they produced was 
immediate and universal — that to see and feel their charms, it did not 
require any knowledge of pictures, or any habit of examining them — 
however such knowledge might enhance and refine the pleasure — but 
only the common sensibility which all must experience, when such 
objects present themselves in real life. Unfortunately, not a trace re- 
mains of those, and other exquisite works of that age — but the art 
since its revival will furnish us with no mean examples ; and, thanks 
to that of engraving, which ought to have been coeval with it, the com- 
positions at least of the finest paintings are very generally known. If, 
then, we suppose a person of natural sensibility and discernment, but 
who had never seen a picture, to have been shown when they were first 
painted, the Aurora of Guido, the Nymphs and Cupids of Albano, or 
the Leda of Correggio — pictures in which nothing but what is youthful 
and lovely is exhibited — he must readily have acknowledged the whole, 

Mr. CJilpin. 



and every part to be beautiful ; because, if lie were to see such objects 
in nature, he would call them so, and view them with delight. The 
same thing must have happened had he been shown a picture of Claude, 
where richly ornamented temples and palaces were accompanied by 
trees of elegant forms and luxuriant foliage, the whole set off by the 
mild glow of a fine evening ; for every thing he saw there, he would 
wish to see and to dwell upon in reality. But should he have been 
shown a set of pictures, in which a number of the principal objects were 
rough, rugged, and broken, with various marks of age and decay, yet 
without any thing of grandeur or dignity, he must certainly have 
thought it strange that the artists should choose to perpetuate on their 
canvass such figures, animals, trees, buildings, &c, as he should wish, 
if he saw them in nature, to remove from his sight. He might after- 
wards, however, begin to observe, that among objects which to him ap- 
peared void of every kind of attraction, the painters had decided reasons 
of preference — whether from their strongly marked peculiarity of 
character — from the variety produced by sudden and irregular devia- 
tion — from the manner in which the rugged and broken parts caught 
the light, and from those lights being often opposed to some deep 
shadow — or from the rich and mellow tints produced by various stages 
of decay, all of which he had passed by without noticing, or had merely 
thought them ugly, but now began to look at with some interest, he 
would find at the same time, that there were quite a sufficient number 
of objects, which the painter would perfectly agree with him in calling 
ugly, without any addition or qualification. 

Such observations as I have just supposed to be made by a single 
person, must have gradually occurred to a variety of observers during the 
progress of the art. Many of them may have seen the artists at work, 
and remarked the pleasure they seemed to take in imitating, by spirited 
strokes of the pencil, any rough and broken objects — any strongly 
marked peculiarity of character, or of light and shadow ; and may have 
observed at the same time with what comparative slowness and caution 
they proceeded, when the correct symmetry — the delicate and insensible 
transitions of colour — and of light and shadow in a beautiful human 
face or body were to be expressed ; and that although the picture, 
when finished in its highest perfection, would be the pride and glory of 
the art, such a real object would to all eyes be yet more enchanting. 
They might thence be led to conclude, that beauty, (and grandeur 
stands upon the same footing,) whether real or imitated, is a source of 
delight which all men of liberal minds may claim in common with the 
painter ; — that mere ugliness is no less disgusting to him, than to the 



rest of the world ; but that a 11 uinl tor of objects, neither grand, nor 
beautiful, nor ugly, are in a manner the peculiar property of the 
painter and his art, being by them first illustrated, and brought into 
notice and general observation. When such an idea had once begun to 
prevail, it was very natural that a word should be invented, and soon 
be commonly made use of, which discriminated the character of such 
objects, by their relation to the artist himself, or to his work. We 
find accordingly that the Italians, among whom painting most flourished, 
invented the word pittoresco, which marks the relation to the painter, 
and which the French, with a slight change, have adopted ; while the 
English use the word picturesque, as related to the production. What 
has just been said, will, I trust, be thought to account with some pro- 
bability for the origin of the term, as well as for the distinction of the 
character, and likewise to point out the reasons why roughness, sudden 
deviation, and irregularity, are in a more peculiar manner suited to the 
painter, than the opposite and more popular qualities of smoothness, 
undulation, and symmetry; and to show that the picturesque may justly 
claim a title taken from the art of painting, without having an exclu- 
sive reference to it. 

If it be true with respect to landscape, that a scene may, and often 
does exist, in which the qualities of the picturesque — almost exclusively of 
those of grandeur and of beauty — prevail; and that persons unacquainted 
with pictures, either take no interest in such scenes, or even think them 
ugly, while painters, and lovers of painting, study and admire them. 
If, on the other hand, a scene may equally exist, in which, as far as the 
nature of the case will allow, the qualities assigned to the beautiful are 
alone admitted, and from which those of the picturesque are no less 
studiously excluded, and that such a scene will at once give delight to 
every spectator, to the painter no less than all others, and will, by all, 
without hesitation be called beautiful,* — if this be true, yet still no 
distinction of character be allowed to exist — what is it, then, which 
does create a distinction between any two characters ? That I shall 
now wish to examine ; and as the right of the picturesque to a cha- 
racter of its own is called in question, I shall do what is very usual in 
similar cases, inquire into the right of other characters, whose distinc- 
tion has hitherto been unquestioned ; not for the sake of disputing their 
right, but of establishing that of the picturesque, by showing on how 
much stronger and broader foundations it has been built. 

Envy and Revenge, are by all acknowledged to be distinct cha- 

* Letter to Mr. Repton, page 1 37. 



racterd ; uay, both of them, as well as many of our better affections, 
have been so often personified by poets, and embodied by painters and 
sculptors, that we have as little doubt of their distinct figurative exist- 
ence, as of the real existence of any of our acquaintance, and almost 
know them as readily. But from what does their distinction arise ? 
From their general effect on the mind ? Certainly not ; for their 
general effect, that which is common to them both, and to others of the 
same class, is ill-will towards the several objects on which they are 
exercised ; just as the general effect of the sublime, of the beautiful, and 
of the picturesque, is delight or pleasure of some kind to the eye, to 
the imagination, or to both. It appears, therefore, from this instance, 
(and I am inclined to think it universally true,) that distinction of 
character does not arise from general effects, but that we must seek for 
its origin in particular causes. I am also persuaded, that it is from 
having pursued the opposite method of reasoning, that the distinction 
between the beautiful and the picturesque has been denied. The truth 
of these two positions will be much more evident, if it should be shown, 
that the causes of envy and revenge no less plainly mark a distinction, 
than their general effect, if singly considered, would imply a unity of 
character. The cause of envy, is the merit, reputation, or good fortune 
of others ; that of revenge, an injury received. These seem to me their 
most obvious and striking causes, and certainly sufficient to distinguish 
them from each other. But let the most acute metaphysician place in 
one point of view, whatever may in any way mark the boundaries 
which separate them, then let his distinctions be compared with those 
which I have stated to exist between the beautiful and the picturesque, 
and if they be not more clear, and more strongly marked, why should 
they have a privilege which is denied to mine ? 

It has been argued by some, that the sublime, as well as the pic- 
turesque, is included in the beautiful ; that such distinctions as Mr. 
Burke and myself have made, are too minute and refined ; and that 
the picturesque especially, is only a mode of beauty.* What, then, are 
envy and revenge ? are they in a less degree modes of hatred ? Yet 
those who are most averse to any distinctions in the other case, would 
hardly object to it in this, or venture to say that all the useful purposes 
of language would be answered, if there were only one term to express 
every different mode of ill-will towards our fellow-creatures. In the 
usual progress of society towards refinement, as new distinctions arise, 

* The difference between the general and the confined sense of beauty, is discussed 
in my letter to Mr. Repton, page 135. 




new terms are invented ; and it is in a great measure from their 
abundance or their scarcity, that the richness or the poverty of any 
language is estimated, while its precision no less depends on the 
accuracy with which they are employed. 

It may here very naturally be asked, how it could happen that 
certain distinctions of characters, which, according to my statement, 
are plain and manifest, should so long have been very inaccurately 
made out, and should still by many be called in question, when a 
number of others, which, as I have asserted, are separated by very thin 
partitions, have for ages been universally acknowledged. This may 
easily be accounted for ; and the causes of accurate distinction, and of 
general agreement in the one case, will lead to those of inaccuracy and 
doubt in the other. 

All that concerns our speculative ideas and amusements, all objects of 
taste, and the principles belonging to them, are thought of by a small 
part of mankind ; the great mass never think of them at all. They 
are studied in one age, neglected in another, sometimes totally lost ; 
but the variety of human passions and affections, all their most general 
and manifest effects, and their minutest discriminations, have never 
ceased to be the involuntary study of all nations and ages. These last 
have, indeed, at various times been particularly investigated by specu- 
lative minds ; but every man has occasion to feel but too strongly the 
truth of their separate causes and effects, either from his own experience, 
or that of persons near and dear to him ; nor are we in any case un- 
concerned spectators where they operate. 

Had it in the nature of things been possible, that the same eager, con- 
stant, and general interest should have prevailed with respect to objects 
of taste, the discriminations might have been hardly less numerous, or 
less generally understood and acknowledged ; and it is by no means 
impossible, should the distinctions in question continue for a long time 
together the subject of eager discussion, and likewise of practical appli- 
cation, that new discriminations, and new terms for them may take 
place. The picturesque might not only be distinguished from the sub- 
lime, and from the beautiful, but its union with them, or, what no less 
frequently occurs, with ugliness, might, when nearly balanced, have an 
appropriate term. At present, when we talk of a picturesque figure, no 
one can guess by that expression alone, to which of the other characters 
it may be allied : whether it be very handsome, or very ugly ; in gauze 
and feathers, or in rags. Again, if we speak of a picturesque scene or 
building, it is equally uncertain whether it be of a hollow lane, a heathy 
common, an old mill or hovel, or, on the other hand, a scene of rocks 



and mountains, or the ruin of some ancient castle or temple. We can, 
indeed, explain what we mean by a few more words ; but whatever 
enables us to convey our ideas with greater precision and facility, must 
be a real improvement to language. The Italians do mark the union of 
beauty with greatness of size or character, whether in a picture or any 
other object, by calling it, una gran-be]\& cosa ; — I do not mean to say 
that the term is always very accurately applied, but it shows a strong 
tendency to such a distinction. But in English, were we to add any 
part of the word picturesque to handsome, or ugly, or grand, though 
such composed words would hardly be more uncouth than many which 
are received into the language, they would be sufficiently so, to place a 
very formidable barrier of ridicule between them and common use. To 
invent new terms, supposing the object of sufficient consequence, is per- 
haps still more open to ridicule. Mr. Burke decided in favour of the 
word delight, to express a peculiar sense of pleasure arising from a pecu- 
liar cause ; but the sense to which we are accustomed, is perpetually 
recurring during his essay ; and out of it, the word of course returns to 
its general meaning : had he risked an entirely new word, and had it 
withstood the first inevitable onset of ridicule, and grown into use, the 
English language would have owed one more obligation to one of its 
greatest benefactors. 

£As I have already said, there can be no objection to the use of 
words which may in any way assist the auditor or reader in more 
perfectly comprehending verbal description, even although they should 
not be capable of any thing like accurate or incontrovertible definition. 
The folly lies in setting up such terms as distinct and perfect definitions, 
whilst our experience every day proves that they are differently defined 
almost by each respective individual who employs them. — E.] 




Having now examined the chief qualities that in such various ways 
render objects interesting — having shown how much the beauty, spirit, 
and effect of landscape, real or imitated, depend upon a just degree of 
variety and intricacy, on a due mixture of rough and smooth in the 
surface, and of warm and cool in the tints — having shown, too, that the 
general principles of improving are in reality the same as those of paint- 
ing — I shall next inquire how far the principles of the last mentioned 
art (clearly the best qualified to improve and refine our ideas of nature) 
have been attended to by improvers — how far, also, those who first pro- 
duced, and those who have continued the present system, were capable 
of applying them, even if they had been convinced of their importance. 

It appears from Mr. Walpole's very ingenious and entertaining 
treatise on modern gardening, that Kent was the first who introduced 
that so much admired change from the old to the present system ; the 
great leading feature of which change, and the leading character of 
each style, are very aptly expressed in half a line of Horace : — 

" Mutat quadrata rotundis." 

[Kent, who was born in 1 685, was originally a coach-painter, went 
to Rome to study as an artist, but never arriving at any degree of 



eminence in the art, he took to the designing of furniture, after his return 
to his own country, and ultimately to park architecture and landscape 
gardening. He commenced his operations on Stowe in Buckingham- 
shire, which had been begun by Bridgeman in 1714. He is said to 
have declared, that his taste for gardening had its origin in the perusal 
of the beautiful descriptions of Spencer, which must appear some- 
what ludicrous to those who can form any notion of the formality of 
his style. Walpole tells us, that " the great principles on which he 
worked were perspective, and light and shade. Groups of trees broke 
too uniform or too extensive a lawn ; evergreens and woods were op- 
posed to the glare of the champaign, and where the view was less for- 
tunate, or so much exposed as to be beheld at once, he blotted out 
some parts by thick shades, to divide it into variety, or to make the 
richest scene more enchanting by reserving it for a farther advance of 
the spectator. Where objects were wanting, he introduced temples, &c, 
but he especially excelled in the management of water. The gentle 
stream was taught to serpentine seemingly at its pleasure, and, where 
discontinued by different levels, its course appeared to be concealed 
by thickets properly interspersed, and glittered again at a distance, 
where it might be supposed naturally to arrive. Its sides were 
smoothed, but preserved their meanderings ; a few trees scattered here 
and there on its edges, and, when it disappeared among the hills, 
shades descending from the heights leaned towards its vanishing point. 
He followed nature even in her faults. In Kensington Gardens he 
planted dead trees, but was soon laughed out of this excess. His 
ruling principle was, that Nature abhors a straight line." Bridgeman 
was the first to innovate on the absolute uniformity which had pre- 
vailed till his time, and, however faulty the style adopted by him, and 
by Kent, who followed him, it was some gain to have innovated on 
the prejudices which till then existed. — E.] 

Formerly every thing was in squares and parallelograms ; now 
every thing was reduced by Kent into segments of circles and ellipses 
— the formality still remains, the character of that formality alone is 
changed. The old canal, for instance, has lost, indeed, its straightness 
and its angles ; but it is become regularly serpentine, and the edges 
remain as naked and as uniform as before — avenues, vistas, and straight 
ridings through woods, are exchanged for clumps, belts, and circular 
roads and plantations of every kind — straight alleys in gardens, and 
the platform of the old terrace, for the curves of the gravel walk. 
The intention of the new improvers was certainly meritorious, for they 
meant to banish formality and to restore nature ; but it must be re- 



membercd, that strongly marked, distinct, and regular curves, unbroken 
and undisguised, are hardly less unnatural or formal, though much less 
grand and simple, than straight lines ; and that, independently of mono- 
tony, the continual and indiscriminate use of such curves, has an ap- 
pearance of affectation and of studied grace, which always creates 

£1 certainly do conceive that any such metamorphosis as is here 
described, made upon any place executed in the old and formal style 
of gardening, would be productive of so great a sacrifice of that delight- 
ful association which we always have with the olden times, as would 
produce any thing but a gain. Let me here avail myself of this oppor- 
tunity to notice some of those specimens of this style which have come 
under my own observation. 

It is true that some of the accounts which we find in old authors 
regarding ornamental gardens are curious, and not always very intel- 
ligible to us of modern times. In the " Genealogy of the House and 
Surname of Setoun, by Sir Richard Maitland of Ledington, Knight," 
we find the following notice of the garden of Winton in East Lothian, 
which, we thence know, was made by George the fourth Lord Setoun. 
"He biggit the Place of Wintoun, w t the zaird and gairdin theirof. 
In the quhilk gairding I have sein fyve scoir of torris of tymber about 
the knottis, ilk ane twa cubit hight, hayand, twa cubit bight, twa 
knoppis on the heid, the ane above the uther, als grit everie ane as ane 
roll boull, ouer gilt w l gold, and the shankis thairof paintit w* dyvers 
heus of oylie collours." In the poetical or rhyming " Cronicle of the 
Hous of Setoun," also, we have the following notice regarding the gar- 
den-works of this same George fourth Lord Setoun : — 

" And did yo r gardings grace 
W statelie stoupis, as than did weill appeir." 

So far as we can understand these descriptions, we cannot altogether 
reconcile the practice of gardening of which they treat, to our modern 
ideas, nor should I much wish to see them imitated in these days ; and 
yet, if they did any where still exist, the propriety of removing them 
would, I think, be extremely questionable. But we can quite comprehend 
and appreciate the roundels, or circular galleries or towers made in the 
garden walls, whence views of the open country were to be enjoyed. 
These roundels are still to be seen in the wall of the old garden at 
Setoun, another place belonging to the same ancient family. One of 
these roundels was occupied by the person and attendants of James I. 
of England, at the funeral of Robert the eighth Lord Setoun and . first 



Earl of Winton ; and these, with the ruins of the beautiful chapel, 
always associated with the name of Queen Mary of Scotland, with 
whom that family were so intimately linked, are now the only rem- 
nants of a place so remarkable for the visits of the North British 

Nothing, as I think, can be more natural, or more pleasing, than 
to discover that intense design has been at work in the immediate 
environs of a house. The extent to which this design is to be carried, 
must, in propriety, be regulated by the magnitude and importance 
of the building itself, and the scale on which the place is laid out. 
Any sudden transition from that manifest design which must necessarily 
be displayed by the architecture itself, to that absolute wildness which 
is to be found in untamed nature, must always be harsh and unpleasing. 
Straight terraces, terrace walks, statues, fountains, flights of steps, 
balustrades, vases, architectural seats, and formal parterres, knots, and 
flower-beds, are therefore most naturally the more immediate accom- 
paniments of a mansion. They are employed, as it were, and I think 
properly so employed, for the purpose of softening off art into nature, 
and thus removing the harsh effect of sudden transition, in the same way 
that an artist softens off hardness of outline in his picture. The unspar- 
ing innovators of the improving school of landscape gardening, seemed 
to consider that it was impossible to carry their system too far, and, 
accordingly, they shaved away all those rich and harmonious attendants 
upon the architecture of the house, and carried bareness and poverty 
up to its very walls. Few perfect samples of the old style, therefore, 
are now to be found ; but where they do exist, we are persuaded that 
they must always excite the liveliest feelings of delight, arising not 
only from associations with the olden time, but from those connected 
with that sense of propriety which gave birth to them. I know of 
one ancient garden of this description, that belonging to the old house 
of Barncleuch near Hamilton, the property of Lady Ruthven, which I 
visited with extreme satisfaction and delight. The house stands on the 
brink of a steep and lofty bank, hanging over the river Avon, at a 
point a little way above its confluence with the Clyde. The bank is 
cut out and built up into terraces of different degrees of level, which 
are connected by flights of steps, and decorated by fountains — arched 
recesses — stone seats — and all these adjuncts usually found in such old 
domestic gardens ; and the whole is thus softened into the happiest 
gradual combination with the wildness of the neighbouring scenery. 
The history of the original formation of this garden is very curious. It 
was constructed by that Lord Belhaven who lived about the middle of 



the seventeenth century, of whom Nicol in his Diary, (page 233,) gives 
us the following very strange history : — 

" It is formerlie observit, that the Inglisches haiffing routtit this 
natioun at the fight at Dunbar, upone the 3d September 1650, they 
possest this kingdome, and did foirfalt the maist pairt of these that 
wer ingadged in that unlauchful ingadgement in the Scottis ingoing to 
England ; among quhome the Dukes of Hamiltoun, and all that former- 
lie were forfait, the creditouris persewit the cautioneris for the Duke's 
dett and could get no relieffe. Among these cautioneris the Lord Bel- 
hevin being one, and being band for that hous in greater sumes of money 
than he was able to pay, he resolves to leave this natioun, that he 
mycht eschew comprysinges of his landis and imprissonement of his 
persone. This resolutioun he followes in this manner. He takis his 
jurney to England, and quhen he past by Silloway (Solway) Saudis, he 
causit his servand cum bak to his wyff with his cloak and hatt, and 
causit it to be vented that in ryding by these sandis, both he and his 
horse quhuairon he raid wer sunkin in these quick sandis and drowned, 
nane being privy to this, bot his lady and his man servand. This re- 
port passed in all pairtes as guid cunzie, that he was deid and perisched, 
for the space of six yearis and moir ; and to mak this the moir probable 
and lykelie, his lady and chyldrene went in dule and murning the first 
two yeiris of his absens, so that during these six yeiris it was certifyed 
to the haill cuntrey that he was deid and perisched ; all this wes done 
of set purpos to eschew the danger of the cautionary quhairin he lay 
for that Hous of Hamiltoun. Eftir his ingoing to England, he strypit 
himselfF of his apperell, clothed himselff in ane base servill sute, denyit 
his name, and became servand to ane gairdner, and laborit in gardenes 
and yairdis during the haill space of his absence ; na person being privy 
to this cours bot his Lady, (as for his servand he went to other service, 
not knowing that his old Lord haid becum a gairdner) till efter six 
yeiris absens ; efter quhilk tyme and space the Dutches of Hamiltoun 
haiffing takin ordour with the dettis, and compereit and aggreyit with 
the creditouris, than he returned to Scotland in Januar last 1659, efter 
sex yeiris service in England with a gairdner, to the admiratioun of 
many, for during that haill space it was evir thocht he wes deid, no 
persone being accessorie to his secrecy bot his awin Lady to hir great 
commendatioune. By this meanis his landis and estait wer saiff, and 
his cautionarie for the Hous of Hamiltoun wes transactit for, as is afoir- 
saidj and his estait both personall and reall fred and outquytt." 

I believe that it was owing to my friend Mr. Kirkpatrick Sharp 
having on one occasion directed Sir Walter Scott's attention to this 



most singular story, that the first idea occurred to the great author of 
the Bride of Lammermoor, that he should terminate the existence of the 
Master of Ravenswood by a death similar to that which was thus feigned 
by Lord Belhaven, and which Sir Walter has made so sublimely affect- 
ing as the final fate of his hero. But the object which I have most 
particularly in view, in my present introduction of this piece of history 
is, that I may be enabled to mention, that it was the knowledge which 
Lord Belhaven thus acquired, during his six years' hard horticultural 
labour in England, that enabled him to lay out and construct this 
beautiful old terrace garden of Barncleuch. A fragment of this lovely 
specimen of this ancient Lord's taste, is given in the frontispiece to the 
present work ; and however small this sample of the terraced garden 
may be, it is believed that it may yet be enough to give to the mind of 
any one of fine taste, very agreeable suggestions as to the beauty and 
richness of the effect of the whole. 

It is a happy circumstance that this architectural style of ornament- 
ing the environs of rural dwellings, is rapidly regaining its footing 
amongst us. Many domestic terrace gardens are now every day con- 
structing, and we have reason to hope that all that is now wanting is a 
little time to make them very universal, and to give the fullest effect 
to them, by allowing growth to those taller shrubs and trees of an 
architectural character with which they will naturally be enriched. 

Whilst I am upon this subject of the formal style of gardening, I 
must be permitted very particularly, yet shortly, to notice a very 
splendid, though much ruined specimen of it, on the more extended 
scale, which I have had opportunities of visiting more than once — I 
mean Castle-Kennedy in Wigtonshire, the property of my much- 
valued friend the Earl of Stair. This place, indeed, is by far the 
largest in extent of any in the same style with which I am ac- 
quainted in our own country — and I shall therefore attempt to give a 
general description of it. Two natural lakes — one called the White 
Loch, containing above one hundred and nineteen acres, and the other, 
called the Black Loch, of above one hundred and twenty-three acres of 
water — are divided by a neck of land, swelling gently, though not 
regularly so, to its crest, where stand the ruins of the ancient castle. 
This neck of land comprises rather more than seventy-one acres, which 
were all laid out above a hundred years ago by the great Field-Mar- 
shal Earl of Stair, in the most perfect manner of the formal style of 
which I am now treating. The outlines of both lakes are left irregu- 
larly sweeping as nature formed them ; but, from all that now remains, 
it is manifest that not one square yard of these seventy-one acres, which 



divide them from each other, was left un worked upon by the spade. 
Not only were the whole plantations made with scrupulous rectilinear 
accuracy, with the exception of certain regular circles, equally formal, 
from which straight lines took their origin of divergence, but the whole 
ground itself was cut down or heaped up, and shaped into rectilinear 
ton-aces, mounts, bastions, and slopes, of every possible variety of 
conception of rectilinear figure. The plantations, all regular in them- 
selves, seem to have had their boundary lines formed of beech, horn- 
beam, holly, yew, and laurel, all clipped into the most formal vegetable 
walls. I can procure no information as to the individual who drew the 
original plan of the work — for work it may well be denominated — but 
from the mere fact, so well known, that it was the same Marshal 
Earl of Stair who planted the place of New Liston in West Lothian, 
according to the plan of the battle of Dettingen, we may reasonably 
conclude that he had himself a very considerable hand in designing the 
formalities of Castle-Kennedy — especially when we know that his 
residence as ambassador at Paris and the Hague, and his long intimate 
and extensive acquaintance with the grandest specimens of the same 
style on the Continent, must have amply fitted him for such a task. 
The original plan for Castle-Kennedy is now before me — but, from 
various pencil marks upon it, as well as from a knowledge of all that 
now remains, I should say that there had been considerable deviation 
from it in the execution — or perhaps much of its more expensive con- 
ceptions were left unexecuted. That the person who superintended 
the actual work itself was his lordship's gardener, Thomas M'Calla, is 
sufficiently proved by the following very curious letters from him to his 
master, in which the mention of the name of Mount Marlborough, 
shows that, in all probability, not only each particular formal spot was 
formally designated, but that even here the camjiaigns in which the 
gallant Marshal had gained so many laurels were not forgotten whilst 
he was engaged in the more peaceful occupation of planting them. 
The length of time which had elapsed between the dates of these two 
letters, proves that the work was not completed in a day. 

Castellkenedy, march ye 2nd 1731. 
My Lord, I haue Teken the fredom to aquant your Lordshep of 
uhat I haue ben Douing In the gardens at Castellkenedy : sine the Last 
tim I urot to your lordshep, the gretest busines ue haue ben about uas 
forming the Ridge of hills aboue the blak loch, uhich I think In short 
fcim uill be finished to greter perfection then any thing that [lias been] 
don yet. Ther uas no mancr of Earth that uas good on that Ridge 



but uhat I uas obledged to fors uith barous from the lou grounds. The 
mers uas not abell to drau up, the bres bing so sti. I uold ben don 
uith that Ridge or nou ; but the plantin seson bing In hand at the sem 
tim, Caused me to leue It and plant uhat plantin uas to be planted 
Eueri uher uher It uas to be doon. The uether Is uery dry hir. I 
Could not plant any tris this year withut Emediet uatring • the Ingin 
In this kess Is of ueri great use to us. On seterday feberuar the 
last I Reciued the frut tris from neulistoun, uhich I haue planted 
all of them In Earth that neuer had ben used befor, which I houp 
will be ueri helpfull to the them. I got allso som vins, to uit, the 
Rid fruntonis vin, and the whit mus Cadin vin, and the Rid Corant 
vin, with som figs ; but the figs ar sukers ; It Is long or they bir. I 
haue led all the lo branches of the fig in the old garden, uhich uill be 
Exslent plants next year. I haue Remoued the old berik of the perter 
uhich meks that pies look much beter then It Coulld Qiave] don other 
uays. I haue ueri great us for gras seeds this year, I hauing Dubell 
the ground to sow this year that Euer I had befor. I haue gathered all 
the hay sids about the hay staks, but It uill not nir ser me ; I uold 
Rether let the ualks grou of themsellues befor I uold so any Rygras 
sid on them. I got a leter from Irland last uik, giuen me ane acount 
that the yeus and sherubs wold be ouer in short tim. The uork I am 
nou about Is the finishin of the uork I haue ben about this uintr, 
which I beliue uill be uork Enugh till the tim the gardens alredi med 
be unting ther deu kiping ; neuer the less, I shall fell In nothing I am 
Capebell to geet don. I haue taken the ashes of the bullingren ; It 
apers to be ueri much the beter. I haue altered the litel mount on 
Colcaldi Park Dik to the Center lin of tlie grauell uallk that gos from 
the bullingren, It bing much mor agriabell then it was uhen of at a sid. 
I disin to plant seuerall of the uallks In the sid next the bullingren, 
uher ther is no hedges, with pirimid holis and yeus, Is all at present I 
haue to trubell your lordshep uith, uishing god may send your lordshep 
safe and ueri shon to gallauay. If I Durst beg your lordshep ansuer 
Concerning uhat your lordshep uold haue Doon, It uold be ueri satis - 
fing to him who Disirs faithful] i to serue your Lordshep, uhill I am, 

Thomas M'Calla. 

Castellkenedy, Jan r ye 5 th 1738. 
I Reciued your lordshep's leter of The Tenth of dcember. I am 
nou Diging the ground to Inlarg the planting at the baluadair as your 
lordshep ordered. I am also Remouing that strip of planten on the 
uest sid of the flouring sherub uildernes, the Alterations that uas med 



the last year and this on both sids of the flouring sherub uildernes, and 
the perter beutyfing that sid to perfection from mount malborou and 
mount Eliner ; ther can be no finer prospect then it nou is. I am still 
continuing the pruning the tris in the garden. I haue begon to plant 
the bre at the whyt loch sid as ue com in from the loch End; I haue 
planted a lin of uery good bich at the foot of the bre. I uas obledged 
to fors Earth to plant them in, for ther is no Earth in that bre ; it is a 
lous dry runin sand ; if the under lin of tris grou, it uill Couer that 
bre uery uell ther. Ther is no tri uill grou on the fac of that bre, it 
bing so lous dray sand, without any mixter of Earth ; so it is the planten 
at the fot of the bre most beutyfar it. It is uery uet nou about the 
burns at ochtelur : ue Canot yet begen to plant ther ; but I set them 
to uork to res alders at the loch sid hir, and resing and gatherin all the 
tris that ue Can get to plant at Ochtelur. Uhen the tris is all resed 
and redy at hand, they uill be son planted uhen the uether grous drier. 
Your lordshep disirs me to giue som money to the masons hir, but I 
ashour your lordshep I haue not on peny to my sellf. Your lordshep 
ordered Mr. Roos to giue me tuenty pound of my by gon uages, but 
he uold not giue me on farthen. I am uery sor straitned, for som 
money I am deu to som pipell hir Causes me nou to aplay to your 
lordshep for rellif. Mr. Rooss uill not giue me my liuery meall till he 
got neu ordors from your lordshep ; so I houp your lordshep uill mind 
to ordor me my liuery meall as formerly. I thank god I haue your 
lordshep to aply to ; I sie hou it uold be uith me uer it otheruays. I 
sent to Charles fergeson the glaser about the glas for the melons : he 
sims to be uery nis about it ; yet he sent me uord that I uold get it. 
Your lordshep disired me to let you knou uhat I uold uant for the gar- 
dens and my sellf. I uill uant nothing for the gardens this seson but 
the fir sid. If the old garden uall had ben Rough Cast, I uold uanted 
som tris to a planted on it. I uold be glad that your lordshep uold 
ordor it to be Rough Cast this spring that it might be planted in 
October. The uether lies ben prety much inclind to rain thes thre uiks 
past, and an strong uind, but hes not hindered me any thiug as to my 
uork. I uish your lordshep and my ledy stairs a uery good neu year, 
and mony of them, is al at present from your lordshep most humbell 
and obedent sert 

Thomas M'Calla. 

Castle-Kennedy was burned by some accident in the time of the 
Marshal Earl of Stair, when the family were compelled to occupy the 
buildings at Culhorn, about a mile-and-a-half distant. These had been 



originally erected as barracks for the reception of his lordship's regi- 
ment of dragoons, the Scots Greys — and each succeeding proprietor 
having added his own desideratum to the buildings, this has ever since 
continued to be the family mansion in that quarter. In approaching 
the ancient place from Culhorn, as matters now are, you enter by a 
gate into a straight avenue between trees of not many years' growth, 
down the long vista, between which the eye is carried to the waters of 
the AVhite Loch, and quite across its surface to the neck of land beyond 
it, where it travels up another avenue leading from the lake to the 
point where rise the picturesque ruins of the old castle. Having 
reached the margin of the lake, the road sweeps away to the right and 
runs around the shore under a high sloping bank, still fortunately 
covered with those beeches alluded to by Mr. M'Calla in his last letter, 
as having been planted by him " at the foot of the bre," and which are 
now of large growth. The road then diving through some younger 
wood, comes to a sudden turn, whence it descends directly on a 
handsome old bridge, which carries it across a straight artificial canal 
of connection between the two lakes, which thus converts the neck of 
land into a peninsula. Immediately on crossing the bridge, a walled 
garden is seen occupying the ground to the right, and the road climbs 
an ascent, under ancient trees, and amidst formally cut banks, until 
reaching the extremity of a straight avenue, you are by it enabled to 
drive, by a gentle ascent, quite up to the large open space where stand 
the ruins of the castle, with the formally cut ground, and shaven turf 
sloping away from it. There much of the original plan of the place 
becomes intelligible, though grievously devastated and ruined by the 
remorseless hatchet of the predecessor Of the present Earl, which, 
judging from the roots of the felled trees yet remaining in the ground, 
must have committed slaughter, right and left, without the smallest 
discrimination. There seems to have been no particle of judicious 
thought exerted by him who wielded the murderous weapon, which, 
whilst he was bent upon the slaughter of a certain value of timber, 
might have led him to have produced the money by thinning out the 
several groves, and so to have left the plan itself entire. This would 
have been too troublesome, as well as tedious and inconvenient from its 
delay. The axe was therefore applied at one angle of a grove, and on 
it went felling all before it, till every individual of the whole phalanx 
lay prostrate. No longer does one formal grove now " nod at its 
brother " — but here and there they stand sighing in the wind for those 
which are now departed. And then as to individual trees — hollies, 
ilexes, and yews — all of the grandest growth — have been mingled in 



one common destruction with the more ordinary forest timber. But, 
with all this, no one can look upon the scene without entertaining 
some feeling of thankfulness that so much wood, and so many fine 
evergreens should have been permitted yet to remain, and that the 
present Earl should still have so much left to encourage him in the 
work of restoration — as to the propriety of which my humble judgment 
was immediately formed the moment I saw the place. Indeed, any 
man of taste would require nothing more than a glance at the place, and 
a consideration of the great scale on which its plan is carried out, to be 
at once of opinion that its restoration should be immediate and com- 
plete. Although formality is strictly observed throughout every part 
of it, yet it is replete with these two great charms, intricacy and 
variety. These would of themselves be sufficient to save the whole 
from condemnation. But when we come to look upon it as associated 
with the recollections of its antiquity — whilst we feel that we cannot 
walk through it without in fancy descrying gay young men and lovely 
women traversing its alleys — seen at a distance as we cross its vistas — 
or seated in sportive yet decorous groups upon its smooth shaven turf, 
forming Watteau pictures in every direction — or floating in gilded 
gondolas on the unruffled bosom of either of its lakes, whilst the de- 
parting rays of a hot summer s sun pour all their glories over its surface 
— and soft sounds of lutes, and mingled voices come stealing on the 
ear ; every mind embued with taste must call aloud for its restoration. 

How then is this best to be effected ? — To begin with the mansion : 
my love for the old Scottish style of house is so great, that under other 
circumstances I should have been disposed to have recommended the 
restoration of the ruins of the old castle, with such additions in the 
same style as might be required ; but as it is of an era of construction 
many ages previous to that of the grounds, I think it would now be 
better to remove it entirely, and to raise on its site a lengthened pile 
of structure, of a size proportioned to the grandeur of the subject, and 
— parva com/ponere magnis — of a character somewhat resembling that 
of Versailles. This should stand on a noble Roman arched architec- 
tural terrace running east and west on the ridge. The geometrical 
shapes into which the ground was originally formed must all be perfectly 
restored, together with all these geometrical groves which were so cruelly 
sacrificed ; and in order that the trees may rush quickly up into maturity 
every possible means and appliance must be used, and the same means 
must be employed to force up the boundary hedges, which must all be of 
yew or holly. As these last grow up I would have them clipped with 
the most scrupulous attention ; but I would not carry the topiary art 



upwards to the trees rising above them, not only because the older 
groves that still remain have long since so far escaped from the thraldom 
of the shears, as to render any attempt to subject them again to their 
dominion utterly hopeless — but because I think that a better effect will 
be produced by allowing nature a certain license in this particular. In 
my plantations I should avail myself of all the advantages which the 
immensely extensive recent introduction and domestication of foreign 
trees and shrubs now afford. Moreover, I should introduce every 
thing that could be effected by fountains, architecture, or sculpture, to 
aid me in producing a perfect whole ; and I would likewise carry out 
the execution of all those parts from the old original plan noticed 
above, where the present state of things would admit of the introduc- 
tion of them. Perhaps the reader may ask whether my suggestion, 
that the whole of this extensive peninsula should thus be laid off with 
the square rule and plummet, is not at variance with what I have 
already maintained, that such formality ought not to go much beyond 
the immediate environs of the house ; but let it be remembered that 
the limit of its actual extent must depend entirely on the scale on which 
the whole is carried on. I would hold that the whole seventy-one acres 
of the peninsula of Castle-Kennedy ought to be considered as the archi- 
tectural garden that is to be in conjunction with the mansion ; and then 
beyond the two lakes — and in the country surrounding them — I would 
produce so great an extent of woody wilderness, as would reduce that 
of the seventy-one acres of artificially formed ground into its due propor- 
tion, and give it full value from the happy contrast it would produce, 
softened as that contrast would be by the intervention of the two broad 
sheets of water afforded by the lakes. This, therefore, in my estimation, 
ought not to be considered as any infringement on the doctrine, that the 
formality of the rectilinear style should never be permitted to push itself 
too far into the neighbouring grounds, seeing that the proper distance 
to which it is to be allowed to go must always be relative to the magni- 
tude of the mansion, and the extent of the subject to be worked upon, 
and besides this, in the case of Castle-Kennedy, which is a subject quite 
unique in itself, the nearer margins of the two lakes and the canal, are 
there the natural boundaries for this species of architectural gardening. 

But when carried far beyond the precincts of the house, the old style 
had indisputably defects and absurdities of the most obvious and striking 
kind. Kent, therefore, is entitled to some praise, as other reformers 
who have broken through narrow, inveterate, long-established pre- 
judices ; and who, thereby, have prepared the way for more liberal 



notions, although, by their own practice and example, they may have 
substituted other narrow prejudices and absurdities in the room of those 
which they proscribed. It must be owned, at the same time, that, like 
other reformers, he and his followers demolished, without distinction, 
the costly and magnificent decorations of past times, and all that had 
been long held in veneration ; and among them, many things which still 
deserved to have been respected and adopted. Such, however, is the 
zeal and enthusiasm with which, at the early period of their success, 
novelties of every kind are received, that the fascination becomes 
general, and the few who may then see their defects, hardly dare to 
attack openly, what a multitude is in arms to defend. It is reserved for 
those, who are further removed from that moment of sudden change and 
strong prejudice, to examine the merits and defects of both styles. 
But how are they to be examined ? By those general and unchanging 
principles, which best enable us to form our judgment of the effect of 
all visible objects, but which, for the reasons I before have mentioned, 
are very commonly called the principles of painting.* These general 
principles, not those peculiar to the practice of the art, are, in my idea, 
universally applicable to every kind of ornamental gardening, in the 
most confined as well as the most enlarged sense of the word. My 
business at present is almost entirely with the latter, with what may be 
termed the landscapes and the general scenery of the place, whether 
under the title of grounds, lawn, park, or any other denomination. 

[[Nothing can be more truly sensible than this distinction. Were the 
principles peculiarly applicable to the mere practice of the art of paint - 
ing to be absolutely employed as the rules of landscape gardening, we 
should not only find that this latter art would be bound in fetters of 
the most tyrannical description, but the effects which such a system 
would produce would be lamentably deficient. I am quite prepared 
to support the opinion, that the principles by which the landscape 
gardener ought to be guided, are those general principles which are to 
be gathered from the study of the best works of landscape painters, 
which, by the way, will be found to be principles fully as valuable for 
enabling the professor of landscape gardening to guard against error, 
as for giving him hints for the composition of real scenery. It is im- 
possible to create a real landscape, with its foreground, middleground, 
and distance, that can be capable of producing its effect from more than 
one point. Then the attempt to produce any one such perfect picture as 
this may ruin the general composition of the place in fifty other different 

Pa<*e 64. 



points. Yet, if the distance be within the power of the improver, and, 
at the same time, if it be not beyond the reach of improvable effect — 
such improvements may be made upon its wooding or otherwise, as 
may make it a more pleasing feature when viewed from any part of the 
grounds. The middle-grounds must of course alter their position, as well 
as their appearance, with relation to the distance, whenever the spectator 
moves from one point of view to another. But all various points 
should be duly considered and studied, and such alterations made on the 
middle-grounds, whether by addition to, or reduction from their masses 
— or by the opening or the loosening of their groves or woods, as may, 
if possible, leave them at least inoffensive to the eye, from whatsoever 
part of the place they may be viewed. As to foregrounds, it is well to 
attend to and heighten the effect which they may produce from some 
of the more important points. But in doing this, as well as in his in- 
terference with those parts of the grounds which have the relation of 
middle-grounds to that which may be considered as the most important 
distance, he must take care that he may be guilty of no operation which 
may in any degree injure the general effect and character of the place, 
either when it is considered as a place to look at, or as a place to ramble 
through and enjoy. If we study the manner in which Claude designs 
his pictures, we shall find that from his clearly made out, though very 
frequently deep-shadowed foreground, he carries your eye directly into 
his middle-grounds, which are varied, and often of great expanse. But 
you cannot in reality go into his canvass to try the landscape from 
another point. If, then, you could compare a real scene which, when 
beheld from one particular point, should be equal to such a picture, it 
may be easily imagined that great sacrifices would be required through- 
out the whole extent of the pleasure-grounds, in order to its production. 
This one example appears to me to be sufficient to explain how neces- 
sary it is to sacrifice these principles, which are peculiar to the practice 
of the art of painting, in order to submit one's self to the guidance of 
those great general principles, which may be collected from a liberal 
study of the works of the best masters, whence the landscape gardener 
may gather enlarged views, which will at least preserve him from the 
risk of doing anything to outrage nature. These remarks, however, 
are mostly applicable to what may be termed truly English places ; 
for in the more romantic parts of our islands, there are spots, where a 
very gentle but judicious exercise of the hatchet, for perhaps not more 
than a quarter of an hour, may possibly open up that, which even the 
most fastidious artist would call a perfect picture — and where, by the 
exercise of the same means for one whole day, a whole series of pic- 
tures, each entirely different from the rest, might be produced, and this 




without doing the smallest injury to the great general effect of the 
place. But this can only be the case where the surrounding features 
arc universally bold ; and the exception by no means impairs the 
Qgth of the general remark. — E.] 
With respect to Kent, and his particular mode of improving, I can 
say but little from my own knowledge, having never seen any works 
of his that I could be sure had undergone no alteration from any of his 
successors ; but Mr. Walpole, by a few characteristic anecdotes, has 
made us perfectly acquainted with the turn of his mind, and the extent 
of his genius. 

A painter, who, from being used to plant young beeches, introduced 
them almost exclusively into his landscapes, and who even in his designs 
for Spencer, whose scenes were so often laid, 

u infra Tombrose piante 
D'antica selva," 

still kept to his little beeches, must have had a more paltry mind than 
falls to the common lot. It must also have been as perverse as it was 
paltry ; for as he painted trees without form, so he planted them with- 
out life, and seems to have imagined that circumstance alone would 
compensate for want of bulk, of age, and of grandeur of character. 

I may here observe, that it is almost impossible to remove a large old 
tree, with all its branches, spurs, and appendages ; and without such 
qualities as greatness of size, joined to an air of grandeur and of high 
antiquity, a dead tree should seldom if ever be left, especially in a con- 
spicuous place. To entitle it to such a station, it should be " majestic 
even in ruin :" a dead tree which could be moved, would, from that 
very circumstance, be unfit for moving. Those of Kent's, were pro- 
bably placed where they would attract the eye ; for it is rare that any 
improver wishes to conceal his efforts. 

If I have spoken thus strongly of a man, who has been celebrated in 
prose and in verse as the founder of an art almost peculiar to this country, 
and from which it is supposed to derive no slight degree of glory, I have 
done it to prevent (as far as it lies in me) the bad effect which too 
great a veneration for first reformers is sure to produce — that of inter - 
esting national vanity in the continuance and protection of their errors. 
The task which I have taken upon myself, has been in all ages in- 
vidious and unpopular. With regard to Kent, however, I thought it 
particularly incumbent upon me to show that he was not one of those 
great original geniuses, who, like Michael Angelo, seem born to give 
the world more enlarged and exalted ideas of art ; but, on the contrary, 
that in the art he did profess, and from which he might be supposed to 



have derived superior lights with respect to that of gardening, his ideas 
were uncommonly mean, contracted, and perverse. Were I not to show 
this plainly and strongly, and without any affected candour or reserve, 
it might be said to me with great reason — you assert that a knowledge 
of the principles of painting is the first qualification for an improver : 
the founder of English gardening was a professed artist, and yet you 
object to him ! 

Kent, it is true, was by profession a painter, as well as an improver ; 
but we may learn from his example, how little a certain degree of 
mechanical practice will qualify its possessor to direct the taste of a 
nation in either of those arts. 

The most enlightened judge, both of his own art and of all that re- 
lates to it, is a painter of a liberal and comprehensive mind, who has 
added extensive observation and reflection to practical execution ; and 
if, in addition to those natural and acquired talents, he likewise possess 
the power of expressing his ideas clearly and forcibly in words, the 
most capable of enlightening others. To such a rare combination we owe 
Sir J oshua Reynolds' Discourses — the most original and impressive work 
that ever was published on his, or possibly on any art. On the other 
hand, nothing so contracts the mind as a little practical dexterity, 
unassisted and uncorrected by general knowledge and observation, and 
by a study of the great masters. An artist, whose mind has been so 
contracted, refers every thing to the narrow circle of his own ideas and 
execution, and wishes to confine within that circle all the rest of man- 

I remember a gentleman who played very prettily on the flute, 
abusing all Handel's music ; and to give me every advantage, like a 
generous adversary, he defied me to name one good chorus of his writing. 
It may well be supposed that I did not accept the challenge — cetoit 
bien I'embarras des richesses: and indeed he was right in his own way 
of considering them, for there is not one that would do well for his 

Before I enter into any particulars, I will make a few observations 
on what I look upon as the great general defect of the present system ; 
not as opposed to the old style, which I believe, however, to have been 
infinitely more free from it, but considered by itself singly, and without 
comparison. That defect, the greatest of all, and the most opposite to 
the principles of painting, is want of connection — a passion for making 
every thing distinct and separate. All the particular defects which I 
shall have occasion to notice, in some degree arise from and tend 
towards this original sin. 



Whoever has examined with attention the landscapes of emineni 
painters, must have observed how much art and study they have em- 
ployed, in contriving that all the objects should have a mutual relation — 
that nothing should be detached in such a manner as to appear totally 
insulated and unconnected, but that there should be a sort of continuity 
throughout the whole. He must have remarked how much is effected, 
where the style of scenery admits of it, by their judicious use of every 
kind of vegetation — from the loftiest trees, through all their different 
growths, down to the lowest plants — so that nothing should be crowded, 
nothing bare; no heavy uniform masses, no meagre and frittered patches. 
As materials for landscape, they noticed, and often sketched, wherever 
they met with them, the happiest groups, whether of trees stan ding- 
alone, or mixed with thickets and underwood ; observing the manner 
in which they accorded with and displayed the character of the ground, 
and produced intricacy, variety, and connection. All that has just 
been mentioned, is as much an object of study to the improver as to the 
painter. The former, indeed, though in some parts he may preserve the 
appearance of wildness and of neglect, in others must soften it, and in 
others again exchange it for the highest degree of neatness ; but there 
is no part where a connection between the different objects is not re- 
quired, or where a just degree of intricacy and enrichment would inter- 
fere with neatness. Every professor, from Kent nearly down to the 
present time, has proceeded on directly opposite principles. The first 
impression received from a place where one of them has been employed, 
is that of general bareness, and particular heaviness and distinctness ; 
indeed, their dislike or neglect of enrichment, variety, intricacy, and 
above all of connection, is apparent throughout. Water, for instance, 
particularly requires enrichment — they make it totally naked ; the 
boundaries in the same degree require variety and intricacy — they 
make them almost regularly circular ; and, lastly, as it calls for all the 
improvers art to give connection to the trees in the open parts, they 
make them completely insulated. One of their first operations is to clear 
away the humbler trees — those bonds of connection which the painter 
admires, and which the judicious improver always touches with a cautious 
hand ; for however minute and trifling the small connecting ties and bonds 
of scenery may appear, they are those by which the more considerable 
objects in all their different arrangements are combined, and on which 
their balance, their contrast, and diversity, as well as union depends. 
It would be hardly less absurd to throw out all the connecting particles 
in language, as unworthy of being mixed with the higher parts of 
speech. Our pages would then be a good deal like our places, when all 



the conjunctions, prepositions, &c, were cleared away, and the nouns 
and verbs clumped by themselves. Water, when accompanied by 
trees and bushes variously arranged, is often so imperceptibly united 
with land, that in many places the eye cannot discover the perfect spot 
and time of their union ; yet is no less delighted with that mystery, 
than with the thousand reflections and intricacies which attend it. 
What is the effect, when those ties are not suffered to exist ? You 
everywhere distinguisli the exact line of separation ; the water is 
bounded by a distinct and uniform edge of grass ; the grass by a similar 
edge of wood ; the trees, and often the house, are distinctly placed 
upon the grass — all separated from whatever might group with them, 
or take off from their solitary insulated appearance. In every thing you 
trace the hand of a mechanic, not the mind of a liberal artist. 

I will now proceed to the particulars, and will beg the reader to keep 
in his mind the ruling principle I have just described, and of which I 
shall display the different proofs and examples. 

No professor of high reputation seems for some time to have appeared 
after Kent, £save Wright, who was more of a draftsman than an actual 
worker out of plans — E.] till at length, that the system might be carried 
to its ne plus ultra, (no very distant point) arose the famous Mr. Brown, 
who has so fixed and determined the forms and lines of clumps, belts, 
and serpentine canals, and has been so steadily imitated by his followers, 
that had the improvers been incorporated, their common seal, with a 
clump, a belt, and a piece of made water, would have fully expressed 
the whole of their science, and have served them for a model as well as 
a seal. 

What Ariosto says of a grove of cypresses, has always struck me in 
looking at made places, 

" Che parean d'una stampa tutte impresse." 

They seem " cast in one mould, made in one frame so much so, 
that I have seen places on which large sums had been lavished, so com- 
pletely out of harmony with the landscape around them, that they gave 
me the idea of having been made by contract in London, and then sent 
down in pieces, and put together on the spot. 

It is very unfortunate that this great legislator of our national taste, 
whose laws still remain in force, should not have received from nature, 
or have acquired by education, more enlarged ideas. Claude Lorraine 
was bred a pastry-cook, but in every thing that regards his art as a 
painter, he had an elevated and comprehensive mind ; nor in any part 
of his works can wo trace the meanness of his original occupation. 



Mr. Brown was bred a gardener, and having nothing of the mind or 
the eye of a painter, he formed his style (or rather his plan) upon the 
model of a parterre ; and transferred its minute beauties, its little 
clumps, knots, and patches of flowers, the oval belt that surrounds it, 
and all its twists and crincum crancums, to the great scale of nature. 

This ingenious device of magnifying a parterre, calls to my mind a 
story I heard many years ago. A country parson, in the county where 
I live, speaking of a gentleman of low stature, but of extremely pom- 
pous manners, who had just left the company, exclaimed, in the simplicity 
and admiration of his heart, " quite grandeur in miniature, I protest !" 
This compliment reversed, would perfectly suit the shreds and patches 
that are so often stuck about by Mr. Brown and his followers, amidst 
the noble scenes they disfigure ; where they are as contemptible, and as 
much out of character, as Claude's first edifices in pastry would appear 
in the dignified landscapes he has painted. 

We have, indeed, made but a poor progress, by changing the formal, 
but simple and majestic avenue, for the thin circular verge called a belt ; 
and the unpretending ugliness of the straight, for the affected sameness of 
the serpentine canal ; but the great distinguishing feature of modern 
improvement is the clump — a name, which if the first letter were taken 
away, would most accurately describe its form and effect. Were it 
made the object of study how to invent something, which, under the 
name of ornament, should disfigure whole districts, nothing could be con- 
trived to answer that purpose like a clump. Natural groups, being 
formed by trees of different ages and sizes, and at different distances 
from each other, often too by a mixture of those of the largest size, with 
thorns, hollies, and others of inferior growth, are full of variety in their 
outlines ; and from the same causes, no two groups are exactly alike. 
But clumps, from the trees being generally of the same age and growth, 
from their being planted nearly at the same distance in a circular form, 
and from each tree being equally pressed by his neighbour, are as like 
each other as so many puddings turned out of one common mould. 
Natural groups are full of openings and hollows ; of trees advancing 
before, or retiring behind each other — all productive of intricacy, of 
variety, of deep shadows, and brilliant lights. In walking about them, 
the form changes at each step ; new combinations, new lights and 
shades, new inlets present themselves in succession. But clumps, like 
compact bodies of soldiers, resist attacks from all quarters. Examine 
them in every point of view — walk round and round them — no opening, 
no vacancy, no stragglers ! but, in the true military character, Us font 
face partout. I remember hearing, that when Mr. Brown was High- 



Sheriff, some facetious person, observing his attendants straggling, called 
out to him, " Clump your javelin men." What was intended merely as 
a piece of ridicule, might have served as a very instructive lesson to the 
object of it, and have taught Mr. Brown that such figures should be 
confined to bodies of men drilled for the purposes of formal parade, and 
not extended to the loose and airy shapes of vegetation. 

The next leading feature to the clump in this circular system, and 
one which, in romantic situations, rivals it in the power of creating de- 
formity, is the belt. Its sphere, however, is more contracted. Clumps, 
placed like beacons on the summits of hills, alarm the picturesque tra- 
veller many miles off, and warn him of his approach to the enemy ; — the 
belt lies more in ambuscade ; and the wretch who falls into it, and is 
obliged to walk the whole round in company with the improver, will 
allow that a snake with its tail in its mouth, is comparatively but a 
faint emblem of eternity. It has, indeed, all the sameness and for- 
mality of the avenue, to which it has succeeded, without any of its 
simple grandeur ; for though in an avenue you see the same objects from 
beginning to end, and in the belt a new set every twenty yards, yet 
each successive part of this insipid circle is so like the preceding, that 
though really different, the difference is scarcely felt ; and there is 
nothing that so dulls, and at the same time so irritates the mind, as per- 
petual change without variety. 

The avenue has a most striking effect, from the very circumstance of 
its being straight ; no other figure can give that image of a grand Gothic 
aisle, with its natural columns and vaulted roof, the general mass of 
which fills the eye, while the particular parts insensibly steal from it in 
a long gradation of perspective. By long gradation, I do not mean a 
great length of avenue. I perfectly agree with Mr. Burke, " that 
colonnades and avenues of trees, of a moderate length, are without com- 
parison far grander than when they are suffered to run to immense 
distances." The broad solemn shade adds a twilight calm to the whole, 
and makes it above all other places the most suited to meditation. To 
that also its straightness contributes ; for when the mind is disposed to 
turn inwardly on itself, any serpentine line would distract the atten- 

All the characteristic beauties of the avenue — its solemn stillness — 
the religious awe it inspires — are greatly heightened by moonlight. 
This I once very strongly experienced in approaching a venerable 
castle-like mansion, built in the beginning of the 15th century ; — a few 
gleams had pierced the deep gloom of the avenue — a large massive 
tower at the end of it, seen through a long perspective, and half lighted 



by the uncertain beams of the moon, had a grand mysterious effect. 
Suddenly a light appeared in this tower — then as suddenly its twinkling 
vanished — and only the quiet silvery rays of the moon prevailed ; 
again, more lights quickly shifted to different parts of the building, 
and the whole scene most forcibly brought to my fancy the times of 
fairies and chivalry. I was much hurt to learn from the master of the 
place, that I might take my leave of the avenue and its romantic effects, 
for that a death-warrant was signed. 

[^Melancholy, indeed, is the thought, that this is no solitary instance 
of this barbarous species of destruction in British places. I could name 
many which have come under my own observation. Some of the most 
interesting associations with our early history have thus been recklessly 
sacrificed beneath the chariot-wheels of the Juggernaut of modern bar - 
barism. And what has been the general product of this most ruthless 
massacre ? Instead of the grandeur which has just been so feelingly 
described, we have an abortive attempt to force the few unfortunate 
stragglers who have been spared from the slaughter, into formal 
groups, which have no other effect than to mark out the line which the 
whole army originally occupied when standing, so that they may serve 
to inform the indignant spectator of the full extent of the atrocity that 
has been committed. But even this is well, compared to the wretchedly 
puerile attempts which we often see made, to manufacture the straggling 
individuals that have been left into clumps, by the planting of younger 
trees around them. But when speaking thus of avenues, I of course 
mean that these my observations shall apply to really ancient avenues, 
composed of grand ancestral timber; for I can quite easily under- 
stand the necessity which may sometimes arise for breaking up those 
of younger date, and more insignificant growth, and which are con- 
sequently neither possessed of grandeur of aspect, nor of ancient asso- 
ciation — and with such I can conceive the propriety of making an 
attempt to employ some of the trees which may be judiciously left 
standing, as the nucleus of groups of younger creation. But even this 
I hold to be a very difficult undertaking, and one in which it will 
generally require years before the original state of things can be tho- 
roughly obliterated, — E.[] 

The destruction of so many of these venerable approaches, is a fatal 
consequence of the present excessive horror of straight lines. Sometimes, 
indeed, avenues do cut through the middle of very beautiful and varied 
ground, with which the stiffness of their form but ill accords, and where 
it were greatly to be wished they had never been planted ; but being 
there, it may often be doubtful whether they ought to be destroyed. 



As to saving a few of the trees, I own I never saw it done with a 
good effect ; — they always pointed out the old line, and the spot was 
haunted by the ghost of the departed avenue. They are, however, 
not unfrequently planted, where a boundary of wood approaching to a 
straight line was required ; and in such situations they furnish a walk of 
more perfect and continued shade, than any other disposition of trees, 
and, what is of no small consequence, they do not interfere with the rest 
of the place. At a gentleman's place in Cheshire, there is an avenue 
of oaks situated much in the manner I have described. Mr. Brown 
absolutely condemned it ; but it now stands a noble monument of the 
triumph of the natural feelings of the owner over the narrow and 
systematic ideas of a professed improver. There is an essential differ- 
ence between the avenue and the belt. When from the avenue you 
turn either to the right or to the left, the whoie country, with all its 
intricacies and varieties, is open before you ; but from the belt there is 
no escaping — it hems you in on all sides ; and if you please yourself 
with having discovered some w r ild sequestered part (if such there ever be 
where a belt-maker has been admitted,) or some new pathway, and are 
in the pleasing uncertainty whereabouts you are, and whither it will 
lead you, the belt soon appears, and the charm of expectation is over. 
If you turn to either side, it keeps winding round you ; if you break 
through it, it catches you at your return ; and the idea of this distinct, 
unavoidable line of separation, damps all search after novelty. Far 
different from those magic circles of fairies and enchanters, that gave 
birth to splendid illusions — to the palaces and gardens of Alcina and 
Armida — -this, like the ring of Angelica, instantly dissipates every 
illusion, every enchantment. 

If ever a belt be allowable, it is where the house is situated in a 
dead flat, and in a naked ugly country. There, at least, it cannot in- 
jure any variety of ground, or exclude any distant prospect ; it will also 
be the real boundary to the eye, however uniform, and any exclusion 
in such cases is a benefit ; — but where there is any play of ground, and 
a descent from the house, it more completely disfigures the place than 
any other improvement. What most delights us in the intricacy of 
varied ground, of swelling knolls, and of valleys between them, retiring 
from the sight in different directions amidst trees or thickets, is that — 
according to Hogarth's expression — it leads the eye a kind of wanton 
chase ; this is what he calls the beauty of intricacy, and is that which 
distinguishes what is produced by soft winding shapes, from the more 
sudden and quickly -varying kind, which arises from abrupt and rugged 
forms. All this wanton chase, as well as the effects of more wild and 



picturesque intricacy, is immediately checked by any circular plan- 
tation, which never appears to retire from the eye and lose itself in 
the distance, never admits of partial concealments. Whatever varieties 
of hills and dales there may be, such a plantation must stiffly cut across 
them, so that the undulations — and what in seamen's language may 
be called the trending of the ground — cannot in that case be humoured ; 
nor can its playful character be marked by that style of planting, which 
at once points out, and adds to its beautiful intricacy. 

This may serve to show how impossible it is to plan any forms of 
plantations that will suit all places, however it may suit the professor's 
convenience to establish such a doctrine. There is, in this respect, no 
small degree of resemblance between the art of gardening and that of 
medicine — in which, after the general principles have been acquired, 
the judgment lies in the application ; and every case — as an eminent 
physician observed to me — must be considered as a special case. 

This holds precisely in improving ; and in both arts the quacks are 
alike — they have no principles, but only a few nostrums, which they 
apply indiscriminately to all situations, and all constitutions. Clumps 
and Belts, pills and drops, are distributed with equal skill — the one 
plants the right, and clears the left, as the other bleeds the east, and 
purges the westward. The best improver or physician is he who 
leaves most to nature — who watches and takes advantage of those in- 
dications which she points out when left to exert her own powers ; but 
which, when once destroyed or suppressed by an empiric of either 
kind, present themselves no more. 

[[These remarks are most important and sensible. As the constitu- 
tion of the patient must be well studied before any curative medicines 
are attempted to be exhibited — or as the temper must be thoroughly 
known before any system can be rationally adopted for moral ameliora- 
tion — so ought the general character of a place to be duly considered 
before any plans for its improvement are determined on. Perhaps the 
first thing that a judicious landscape gardener should do is to endeavour 
to divest himself of every thing that may have the semblance of a nos- 
trum — of every thing that may savour of an universally applied sys- 
tem. Having rid himself of this, he will be enabled to take his im- 
pressions from the nature of the place he may be called upon to visit ; 
and from these impressions, calmly and impartially formed, he will be 
enabled to originate designs, which, if not likely to turn out very 
striking improvements, will probably at least have the merit of creat- 
ing nothing which may be afterwards considered as a decided deformity ; 
— and thus, if he do not shine as a great manufacturer of landscape, he 



will at least be saved from that damning fame to which some of those 
who have gone before him have been irrecoverably doomed. — E.] 

I have perhaps expressed myself more strongly and more at length 
than I otherwise should have done, on the subject of so paltry an in- 
vention as that of the belt, from the extreme disgust I felt at seeing its 
effect in a place, of which the general features are among the noblest 
in the kingdom. In front, the sea appears in view, embayed amidst 
islands and promontories, and backed by mountains ; between the 
house and the shore there is a quick, though not an abrupt descent of 
ground, on which a judicious improver might have planted different 
masses of wood, groups, and single trees, more or less dispersed or con- 
nected together, with lawns and glades between them, gently leading 
the eye among their intricacies to the shore. This would have formed 
a rich and varied foreground to the magnificent distance ; and in the 
approach to the sea-side, whichever way you took, would have broken 
that distance, and have formed in conjunction with it a number of new 
and beautiful compositions. One of Mr. Brown's successors has thought 
differently ; and this uncommon display of scenery is disgraced by a 

I do not remember the place in its unimproved state ; but I was told 
that there was a great quantity of wood between the house and the 
sea, and that the vessels appeared, as at that wonderful place, Mount 
Edgecumbe, sailing over the tops, and gliding among the stems of the 
trees. If so, this professor 

M Has left sad marks of his destructive sway." 

The method of thinning trees which has been adopted by layers out 
of ground, perfectly corresponds with their method of planting ; for in 
both cases they totally neglect what in the general sense of the word 
may be called picturesque effects. Trees of remarkable size, indeed, 
usually escape ; but it is not sufficient to attend to the giant sons of the 
forest. Often the loss of a few trees, nay, of a single tree of middling 
size, is of infinite consequence to the general effect of the place, by 
making an irreparable breach in the outline of a principal wood — 
often some of the most beautiful groups owe the playful variety of 
their form, and their happy connection with other groups, to some 
apparently insignificant, and to many eyes, even ugly trees. To at- 
tend to all these niceties of outline, connection, and grouping, would 
require much time as well as skill, and therefore a more easy and com- 
pendious method has been adopted : the different groups are to be 
cleared round, till they become as clump -like as their untrained natures 



will allow, and even many of those outside trees which belong to the 
groups themselves, and to which they owe not only their beauty, but 
their security against wind and frost, are cut down without pity, if 
they will not range according to a prescribed model — till, mangled, 
starved, and cut off from all connection, these unhappy newly-drilled 

" Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves." 
Even the old avenue, whose branches had intertwined with each 
other for ages, must undergo this fashionable metamorphosis. The 
object of the improver is to break its regularity ; but, so far from pro- 
ducing that effect by dividing it into clumps, he could scarcely in- 
vent a method by which its regularity would be made so manifest in 
every direction. When entire, its straightness can only be seen when 
you look up or down it ; viewed sideways, it has the appearance of a 
thick mass of wood ; if you plant other trees before it, to them it gives 
consequence, and they give it lightness and variety ; but when it is 
divided, and you can see through it and compare the separate clumps 
with the objects before and behind them, the straight line is apparent 
from whatever point you view it. In its close array, the avenue is 
like the Grecian phalanx — each tree, like each soldier, is firmly wedged 
in between its companions ; its branches, like their spears, present a 
front impenetrable to all attacks, but the moment this compact order 
is broken their sides become naked and exposed. Mr. Brown, like 
another Paulus iEmilius, has broken the firm embodied ranks of many 
a noble phalanx of trees ; and in this, perhaps, more than in any other 
instance, he has shown how far the perversion of taste may be carried 
— for at the very time when he deprived the avenue of its shade and 
its solemn grandeur, he increased its formality. 

QThink of the calm enjoyment of a solitary saunter beneath the 
shade of one of those magnificent old avenues, just after the sun has 
sunk in a sultry summer's evening, and ere yet the black colony of 
rooks and daws who are heard over head, cawing, as it were, in another 
region, have quite settled down to their night's repose — only think of 
this, and then conceive the atrocity of that taste which could set the 
hatchet-men to work against the giant stems of those trees which ages 
have been employed in bringiug to perfection, during which they have 
seen so many generations of human beings spring up like the grass of 
the field, like it to perish under their shade. — E.] 




It is in the arrangement and management of trees that the great art of 
improvement consists ; earth is too cumbrous and lumpish for man to 
contend much with, and, when worked upon, its effects are flat and 
dead, like its nature. But trees, detaching themselves at once from 
the surface, and rising boldly into the air, have a more lively and im- 
mediate effect on the eye ; they alone form a canopy over us, and a 
varied frame to all other objects, which they admit, exclude, and group 
with, almost at the will of the improver. In beauty they not only far 
excel every thing of inanimate nature, but their beauty is complete 
and perfect in itself, while that of almost every other object requires 
their assistance. Without them, the most varied inequality of ground 
is uninteresting. Rocks, though their variety is of a more striking 
kind, and often united with grandeur, still want their accompaniment ; 
and although in the higher parts of mountains trees are neither ex- 
pected nor required, yet if there be none in any part of the view, a 
scene of mere barrenness and desolation, however grand, soon fatigues 
the eye. Water, in all its characters of brooks, rivers, lakes, and 
water-falls, appears cold and naked without them ; the sea alone forms 
an exception, its sublimity absorbing all idea of lesser ornaments — for 
no one can view the foam, the gulfs, the impetuous motion of that 



world of waters, without a deep impression of its destructive and ir- 
resistible power. But sublimity is not its only character, for after that 
first awful sensation is weakened by use, the infinite variety in the forms 
of the waves, in their light and shadow, in the dashing of their spray, 
and, above all, the perpetual change of motion, continue to amuse the 
eye in detail, as much as the grandeur of the whole possessed the mind. 
It is in this that it differs, not only from motionless objects, but even 
from rivers and cataracts, however diversified in their parts ; in them 
the spectator sees no change from what he saw at first — the same breaks 
in the current, the same falls continue — but the intricacies and varieties 
of waves breaking against rocks, are as endless as their motion. 

£1 have enjoyed indescribable pleasure from sitting, as I have done 
for hours, to watch the play of the waves beating in upon a rocky 
coast, especially where numberless broken ledges of lower rocks encum- 
bered the beach at the base of the loftier cliffs. The variety of their 
forms and motion is indeed endless. Now the surge comes on in one 
wide heave, swelling and mounting as it advances, until its crest rises 
thin and sharp, and it breaks over rapidly along its whole line, with a 
noise like the hollow discharge of artillery. It was like the advancing 
line of an army before, but now its order of battle is broken by the shock, 
whilst its numerous parts, like the brave irregular groups into which 
the battle-line has been divided, still press onward, each towards that 
point against which chance or circumstances may have directed it 
— some running rapidly in through the narrow straits between the 
rocks — others .rushing against the perpendicular masses, and raging furi- 
ously over them — whilst others, hurrying with a hissing noise, and with 
the speed of the race-horse, up the inclined plane of some rough limpet- 
covered ledge, pour over its fractured edges to landward, in a thousand 
fantastical cascades ; — and then the meeting again of these various broken 
bodies of water, tossing, and tumbling, and foaming, and producing ten 
thousand sonorous eddies, almost bewilders the ears as well as the eyes of 
the spectator. And thus wave succeeds wave, with infinite magnificence, 
each to produce new effects, as the tide advances, and to give birth to 
ever-changeful glories, which are perpetually altered too by the fitful 
lights and shadows that may fall upon them, and which are continually 
raising a chorus of sounds, which might have well begotten the fabled 
superstition of the mingled music of the sea-nymphs and tritons. To 
paint such an ever-varying subject as this might well be considered as 
beyond the powers of the pencil. Yet it has been often attempted, and 
by no one with more frequency, or with more perfect success, than by 
that most successful modern painter of coast scenes, the late — alas for 



art that we should now be compelled to call him so — Reverend John 
Thomson of Duddingstone, whose matchless seas are so enlivened with 
apparent motion, that one almost fancies that their sound is audible. 
Whilst engaged in thus observing the surges breaking on the coast, I 
have imagined that I could trace a regular and gradual alternate rise 
and fall in the size of the waves. I fancied that I could perceive that 
each succeeding wave was larger than that which had preceded it, till 
they arrived at their climax — aud that they then gradually subsided in 
magnitude, to rise again through a similar gradation. But it would 
require more observation than circumstances have as yet enabled me to 
bestow, to ascertain the accuracy of the remark, that they observe regular 
numbers in their rise and fall. The most sublime effects of the sea break- 
ing upon a rocky coast, will be those produced by a storm. But I should 
rather say that the time most favourable for observing the changeful 
intricacies and varieties of the play of its waves among rocks, is when 
it is heaved up, and thrown in upon the shore iu these long high surges 
which are created by what is called a heavy ground-swell. — E/] 

There are situations where trees succeed near the sea, but it is only 
where it is land-locked ; and in such cases, though their combination, 
as at Mount Edgecumbe, Qmd at Roseneath also, and various other 
places on the western-coast of our island — E.] is no less beautiful than 
uncommon, the sea itself loses its grand imposing character, and puts on 
something of the appearance of a lake. Then it is that trees are neces- 
sary ; for a lake bounded by naked ground, or by naked rocks, forms a 
dull or a rude landscape ; but let one change only be made — let the sea 
break against those rocks — and trees will no longer be thought of. 

As, in addition to its sublime character, the intricacy and variety of its 
waves render the sea independent of trees, so those are the two qualities 
in trees, which render them of such importance in all inland situations, 
especially in those of a tame unvaried character ; and so great is their 
power of correcting monotony, that, by their means, even a dead flat 
may become highly interesting. 

The infinite variety of their forms, tints, and light and shade, must 
strike every body ; the quality of intricacy they possess in as high a 
degree, and in a more exclusive and peculiar manner. Take a single 
tree only, and consider it in this point of view. It is composed of 
millions of boughs, sprays, and leaves, intermixed with and crossing 
each other in as many directions, while through the various openings 
the eye still discovers new and infinite combinations of them ; yet in 
fcbifl labyrinth of intricacy there is no unpleasant confusion — the general 
effect is as simple as the detail is complicate. Ground, rocks, and 



buildings, where the parts are much broken, become fantastic and 
trifling, besides, they have not that loose pliant texture so well adapted 
to partial concealment ; — a tree, therefore, is perhaps the only object 
where a grand whole, or at least what is most conspicuous in it, is 
chiefly composed of innumerable minute and distinct parts. 

To show how much those who ought to be the best judges consider 
the qualities 1 have mentioned, no tree, however large and vigorous, 
however luxuriant the foliage, will highly interest the painter, if it pre- 
sent one uniform unbroken mass of leaves ; while others, not only infe- 
rior in .size and in thickness of foliage, but of forms which might induce 
some improvers to cut them down, will attract and fix their attention. 
The reasons of this preference are obvious ; but as on these reasons, 
according to the ideas I have formed, the whole system of planting, 
pruning, and thinning, for the purpose of ornament, depends, I must be 
allowed to dwell a little longer on them. 

In a tree, of which the foliage is everywhere full and unbroken, 
there can be but little variety of form ; then, as the sun strikes only 
on the surface, neither can there be much variety of light and shade ; 
and as the apparent colour of objects changes according to the different 
degrees of light or of shade in which they are placed, there can be as 
little variety of tint. 

" Lux varium vivumque dabit, nullum umbra colorem." 

And, lastly, as there are none of those openings that excite and nourish 
curiosity, but the eye is everywhere opposed by one uniform leafy 
screen, there can be as little intricacy as variety. What is here said 
of a single tree is equally true of every massy combination of them, 
and appears to me to account perfectly for the bad effect of clumps, 
and of all plantations and woods where the trees grow close together. 
In all these cases the effect is in one respect much worse. We are 
disposed to admire the bulk of a single tree, the ipse nemus, though its 
form should be heavy ; but there is a meanness, as well as a heaviness 
in the appearance of a lumpy mass produced by a multitude of little 

What are the qualities that painters do admire in single trees, groups, 
and woods, may easily be concluded from what they do not ; the detail 
would be infinite, for, luckily, where art does not interfere, the absolute 
exclusions are few. If their taste be preferable to that of gardeners, it 
is clear that there is something radically bad in the usual method of 
making and managing plantations ; it otherwise would never happen 
that the woods and arrangements of trees which they are least disposed 



to admire, should be those made for the express purpose of ornament. 
Under that idea, the spontaneous trees of the country are often excluded 
as too common, or admitted in small proportions, whilst others of pe- 
culiar form and colour take place of oak and beech. But of whatever 
trees the established woods of the country are composed, the same, I 
think, should prevail in the new plantations, or those two grand prin- 
ciples, harmony and unity of character, will be destroyed. It is very 
usual, however, when there happens to be a vacant space between two 
woods, to fill it up with firs, larches, See. ; if this be done with the idea 
of connecting those woods, which should be the object, nothing can be 
more opposite than the effect. Even plantations of the same species re- 
quire time to make them accord with the old growths ; but such harsh 
and sudden contrasts of form and colour make these insertions for ever 
appear like so many awkward pieces of patch-work — and surely, if a 
man were reduced to the necessity of having his coat pieced, he would 
wish to have the joinings concealed, and the colour matched, and not 
to be made a harlequin. 

It is not enough that trees should be naturalised to the climate — they 
must also be naturalised to the landscape, and mixed and incorporated 
with the natives. A patch of foreign trees planted by themselves in 
the outskirts of a wood, or in some open corner of it, mix with the 
natives much like a group of young Englishmen at an Italian conver- 
sazione. But when some plant of foreign growth appears to spring up 
by accident, and shoots out its beautiful, but less familiar foliage among 
our natural trees, it has the same pleasing effect as when a beautiful 
and amiable foreigner has acquired our language and manners so as to 
converse with the freedom of a native, yet retains enough of original 
accent and character, to give a peculiar grace and zest to all her words 
and actions. 

Trees of a dark colour, or a spire-like form, though when planted in 
patches they have such a motley appearance, may be so grouped with 
the prevailing trees of the country, as to produce infinite richness and 
variety, and yet seem part of the original design ; but it appears to be 
an established rule, that plantations made for ornament, should, both 
in form and substance, be as distinct as possible from the woods of the 
country, so that no one may doubt an instant what are the parts which 
have been improved. Instead, therefore, of giving to nature that " rich, 
ample, and flowing robe which she should wear on her throned emi- 
nence," instead of " hill united to hill with sweeping train of forest, 
with prodigality of shade," she is curtailed of her fair proportions, 
pinched and squeezed into shape, and the prim squat clump is perched 




up exactly on the top of every eminence. Sometimes, however, where 
the extent is so great that common-sized clumps would make no figure, 
it has been very ingeniously contrived to consolidate (and I am sure 
the word is not improperly used) several of them in one larger lump, 
and these condensed, unwieldy masses, are at random stuck about the 

^lr. Mason's Poem on Modern Gardening, is so well known to all 
who have any taste for the subject, or for poetry in general, that it is 
hardly necessary to say that the words between the inverted commas 
are chiefly taken from it. In the part from which I have taken these 
two passages, he has pointed out the noblest style of planting, in a style 
of poetry no less noble and elevated. 

[He concludes his treatment of the part of his subject which regards 
planting, with these happy lines : — 

" Instruction now 
Withdraws ; she knows her limits ; knows that grace 
Is caught by strong perception, not from rules — 
That undrest Nature claims for all her limbs 
Some simple garb peculiar, which, howe'er 
Distinct their size and shape, is simple still. 
This garb to choose, with clothing dense or thin, 
A part to hide, another to adorn, 
Is Taste's important task; perceptive song 
From error in the choice can only warn." — E.] 

In many such plantations the trees which principally show them- 
selves are larches, and they produce the most complete monotony of 
outline. The summits of round-headed trees, especially the oak, vary 
in each tree ; but there can only be one form in those of pointed trees : 

" Linea recta velut sola est, et mille recurvae." 

On that account, wherever ornament is the aim, great care ought to be 
taken that the general outline be round and full, and only partially 
broken and varied by pointed trees, and that too many of those should 
not rise above the others, so as principally to catch the eye. Now, 
wherever larches are mixed, even in a small proportion, over the whole 
of a plantation, the quickness of their growth, their pointed tops, and 
the peculiarity of their colour, make them so conspicuous, that the 
whole wood seems to consist of nothing else. 

I have seen two places on a very large scale laid out by a professed 
improver of high reputation, where all the defects I have mentioned 
were most strikingly exemplified. Some persons have ima,L r ined, that 



by a professor of high reputation I must here mean Mr. Repton ; but 
these two places, which were laid out before he took to the profession, 
clearly prove that it did not then require his talents to gain a high re- 
putation — I hope in future it will be less easily acquired. Whatever 
might be the other trees of which the separate clumps consisted, nothing 
was seen above but larches ; from the .multitude of their sharp points 
the whole country appeared en herisson, and had much the same degree 
of resemblance to natural scenery, as one of the old military plans with 
scattered platoons of spearmen, has to a print after Claude or Poussin. 
With all my admiration of trees, I had rather be without them thin 
have them so disposed. Indeed, I have often seen hills, where the out- 
line, the swellings, and the deep hollows were so striking, and where the 
surface was so varied by the mixture of smooth close-bitten turf, with 
the rich, though short clothing of fern, heath, or furze, and by the dif- 
ferent openings and sheep-tracks among them, that I should have been 
sorry to have had the whole covered with the finest wood ; nay, I 
could hardly have wished for trees the most happily disposed, and, of 
course, should have dreaded those which are usually placed there by 
art. An improver has rarely such dread. In general the first idea that 
strikes him, is that of distinguishing his property ; nor is he easy till 
he has put his pitch-mark on all the summits. Indeed, this gratifies 
his desire of celebrity, by exciting the curiosity and admiration of the 
vulgar; and travellers of taste will naturally be provoked to inquire — 
though from another motive — to whom those unfortunate hills belong. 

£1 believe I have mentioned in another work a fact regarding the 
marks of such improvers, which is perhaps one of the most wonderful 
on record. A gentleman in a northern county of Scotland, though he 
did not exactly gratify the passing traveller by enabling him to read 
his own name, actually planted the name of his place in letters that 
covered a hill side. This almost incredible piece of taste I saw and 
read with my own eyes. — E.[] 

It is melancholy to compare the slow progress of beauty with the 
upstart growth of deformity. Trees and woods planted in the most 
judicious style, will not for years strongly attract the painter's notice, 
though the planter, like a fond parent, feels the greatest tenderness for 
his children, at the time they are least interesting to others. Madame 
de Sevigne, whose maternal tenderness seems to have extended itself to 
her plantations, says, " Je fais jeter a bas de grands arbres, parce qu'ils 
font ombrage, ou qu'ils incommodent mes jeunes enfants." 

But to the deformer — a name too often synonymous to the improver 
■ — it is not necessary that his trees should have attained their full 



growth ; as soon as be has planted them in Lis round fences, his prin- 
cipal work is done — the eye which used to follow with delight the bold 
sweep of outline, and all the playful undulation of ground, finds itself 
suddenly checked and its progress stopt, even by these embryo clumps. 
They have the same effect on the great features of nature as an ex - 
crescence on those of the human face ; in which, though the proportion 
of one feature to another greatly varies in different persons, yet these 
differences, like others of a similar kind in inanimate nature, give 
variety of character without disturbing the general accord of the parts ; 
but let there be a wart or a pimple on any prominent feature — no 
dignity or beauty of countenance can detach the attention from it ; 
that little, round, distinct lump, while it disgusts the eye, has a fasci- 
nating power of fixing it on its own deformity. This is precisely the 
effect of clumps : the beauty or grandeur of the surrounding parts only 
serve to make them more horribly conspicuous ; and the dark tint of 
the Scotch fir, of which they are generally composed, as it separates 
them by colour, as well as by form, from every other object, adds the 
last finish. 

But even large plantations of firs, when they are not the natural and 
the prevailing trees of the country, have a harsh and heavy look, from 
their not harmonizing with the rest of the landscape ; and this is par- 
ticularly the case when, as it sometimes happens, one side of a valley is 
planted solely with firs, the other with deciduous trees. The common 
expressions of a heavy colour, or a heavy form, show that the eye feels 
an impression from objects analogous to that of weight ; thence arises 
the necessity of preserving what may be called a proper balance, so that 
the quantity of dark colour on one side, or in one part of the scene, 
should not in any striking degree outweigh the other ; and this is a 
very material point in the art of painting. If in a picture, the one half 
were to be light and airy both in the forms and in the tints, and the 
other half one black heavy lump, the most ignorant person would 
probably be displeased, though he might not know upon what principle, 
with the want of balance and of harmony ; for those harsh discordant 
forms and colours, not only act more forcibly from being brought 
together within a small compass, but also, because in painting they are 
not authorised by fashion, or rendered familiar by custom. 

One principal cause of the extreme heaviness of fir plantations is their 
closeness. A planter very naturally wishes to produce some appearance 
of wood as soon as possible ; he therefore sets his trees very near to- 
gether, and so they generally remain, for he has seldom the resolution to 
thin them sufficiently : they are consequently all drawn up together 



nearly to the same height ; and as their heads touch each other, no 
variety, no distinction of form can exist, but the whole is one enormous, 
unbroken, unvaried mass of black. Its appearance is indeed so uni- 
formly dead and heavy, that instead of those cheering ideas which arise 
from the fresh luxuriant foliage, and the lighter tints of deciduous trees, 
it has something of that dreary image — that extinction of form and 
colour — which Milton felt from blindness ; when he who had viewed 
objects with a painter's eye, as he described them with a poet's fire, 

* Presented with an universal blank 
Of nature's works." 

The inside of these plantations fully answers to the dreary appearance 
of the outside. Of all dismal scenes it seems to me the most likely for 
a man to hang himself in, though he would find some difficulty in the 
execution ; for, amidst the endless multitude of stems, there is rarely a 
single side branch to which a rope could be fastened. The whole wood 
is a collection of tall naked poles, with a few ragged boughs near the 
top ; above — one uniform rusty cope, seen through decayed and decaying 
sprays and branches ; below — the soil parched and blasted with the 
baleful droppings ; hardly a plant or a blade of grass, nothing that can 
give an idea of life or vegetation. Even its gloom is without solem- 
nity ; it is only dull and dismal ; and what light there is. like that of 

" Serves only to discover scenes of woe, 
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades." 

In a grove where the trees have had room to spread, (and in that 
case I am very far from excluding the Scotch fir or any of the pines,) 
the gloom has a character of solemn grandeur — that grandeur arises 
from the broad and varied canopy over head, for as Virgil says of the 

u Media ipsa ingentem sustinet umbram," 
as well as from the small number and great size of the trunks by which 
the canopy is supported, and from the large undisturbed spaces between 
them ; but a close wood of firs is, perhaps, the only one from which the 
opposite qualities of cheerfulness and grandeur — of symmetry and 
variety — are equally excluded ; and in which, though the sight is per- 
plexed and harassed by the confusion of petty objects, there is not the 
smallest degree of intricacy. 

Firs, planted and left in the same close array, are very commonly 
made use of as screens and boundaries ; but as the lower part is of 
most consequence where concealment is the object, they are, for the 



reasons I mentioned before, the most improper trees for that purpose. 
I will, however, suppose them to be exactly in the condition the planter 
would wish, that the outer boughs, on which alone he can place any 
dependence, were preserved from animals ; and that though planted 
along the brow of a hill, they had escaped from wind and snow, and 
the many accidents to which they are exposed in bleak situations, they 
would then exactly answer to that admirable description of Mr. Mason : 

" The Scottish fir 
In murky file rears his inglorious head, 
And blots the fair horizon." 

Nothing can be more accurately, or more forcibly expressed, or raise 
a juster image in the mind. Every thick unbroken mass of black, 
especially when it can be compared with softer tints, is a blot ; and 
has the same effect on the horizon in nature, as if a dab of ink were 
thrown upon that of a Claude. This, however, is viewing it in its 
most favourable state, when at least it answers the purpose of a screen, 
though a heavy one; but it happens full as often that the outer boughs do 
not reach above half-way down, and then, besides the long, black, even 
line which cuts the horizon at the top, there is at bottom a streak of 
glaring light that pierces everywhere through the meagre and naked 
poles, and shows distinctly the poverty and thinness of the boundary. 
Many a common hedge, with a few trees in it, that has been suffered 
to grow wild, is a much more varied and effectual screen ; but there 
are hedges, .where yews and hollies are mixed with trees and thorns, 
so thick from the ground upwards — so diversified in their outline, in the 
tints, and in the light and shade, that the eye, which dwells on them 
with pleasure, is perfectly deceived, and can neither see through them, 
nor discover (hardly even suspect) their want of depth. 

This striking contrast between a mere hedge, and trees planted for 
the express purpose of concealment and beauty, affords a very useful 
hint not only for screens and boundaries, but for every sort of plantation, 
where variety and intricacy, not mere profit, are the objects. We may 
learn from it that concealment, without which there can be no intricacy^ 
cannot well be produced without a mixture of the smaller growths, such 
as thorns and hollies ; which being naturally bushy, fill up the lower 
parts where the larger trees are apt to be bare. We may also learn in 
what manner such a mixture produces variety of outline ; for in a hedge 
such as I have described, the lower growths do not prevent the higher 
from extending their heads, while at the same time by their different 
degrees of height, more or less approaching to that of the timber trees, 
they accompany and group with them, and prevent that formal discon- 



nected appearance, which hedgerow trees left alone, after every thing 
has been completely cleared from them, almost always present. 

If by such means a mere single line of hedge becomes an effectual 
and varied screen, of course a deeper plantation conducted on the same 
principles would be a much more varied boundary, and more impene- 
trable to the eye ; and it seems to me, that if this method were followed 
in all ornamental plantations, it would, in a great measure, obviate the 
bad effects of their being left too close, either from foolish fondness or 
neglect. Suppose, for instance, that instead of the usual method of 
making an evergreen plantation of firs only, and those stuck close to- 
gether, the firs were planted at various distances of ten, twelve, or more 
yards asunder, and that the spaces between them were filled with the 
lower evergreens. All these would for some years grow up together, 
till at length the firs would shoot above them all, and find nothing after- 
wards to check their growth in any direction. Suppose such a wood 
upon the largest scale, to be left to itself, and not a bough cut for twenty, 
thirty, any number of years ; and that then it came into the hands of a 
person who wished to give variety to this rich, but uniform mass. He 
might in some parts choose to have an open grove of firs only ; in that 
case he would only have to clear away all the lower evergreens, and 
the firs which remained, from the free unconstrained growth of their 
heads, would appear as if they had been planted with that design. In 
other parts he might make that beautiful forest-like mixture of open 
grove, with thickets and loosely scattered trees ; of lawns and glades of 
various shapes and dimensions, variously bounded. Sometimes he might 
find the ground scooped out into a deep hollow, forming a sort of amphi- 
theatre ; and there, in order to show its general shape, and yet preserve 
its sequestered character, he might only make a partial clearing ; when 
all that can give intricacy, variety, and retirement to a spot of this 
kind, would be ready to his hands. 

It may indeed be objected, and not without reason, that this evergreen 
underwood will have grown so close, that when thinned, the plants 
which are left will look bare — and bare they will look, for such must 
necessarily be the effect of leaving any trees too close. There are, how- 
ever, several reasons why it is of less consequence in this case. The 
first and most material is, that the great outline of the wood formed by 
the highest trees, would not be affected ; another is, that these lower 
trees being of various growths, some will have outstripped their fellows, 
in the same proportion as the firs outstripped them ; and, consequently, 
their heads will have had room to spread, and form a gradation from 
the highest firs to the lowest underwood. Again, many of these ever- 



greens of lower growth succeed well under the drip of taller trees, and 
also (to use the figurative expression of nurserymen) love the knife : 
by the pruning of some, therefore, and cutting down of others, the bare 
parts of the tallest would in a short time be covered ; and the whole 
of such a wood might be divided at pleasure into openings and groups, 
differing in form, in size, and in degrees of concealment — from skirtings 
of the loosest texture, to the closest and mest impenetrable thickets. 

This method is equally good in making plantations of deciduous trees, 
though not in the same degree necessary as in those of firs ; and though 
I have only mentioned ornamental plantations, yet, I believe, if thorns 
were always mixed with oak, beech, &c, besides their use in preventing 
the forest trees from being planted too close to each other, they would 
by no means be unprofitable. If they were taken out before they were 
too large to be moved easily, their use for hedges, and their ready sale 
for that purpose, is well known ; if left longer, they are particularly 
useful for filling up gaps, where smaller plants would be stifled ; and if 
they remained, they would ahvays make excellent hedge-wood, and 
answer all the common purposes of underwood. For ornament, exotics 
of different growths might be added ; among which, the various species 
of thorns alone would furnish a considerable list. 

It is not meant that the largest growths should never be planted near 
each other ; some of the most beautiful groups are often formed by such 
a close junction, but not when they have all been planted at the same 
time, and drawn up together. A judicious improver will know when, 
ami how to "deviate from any method, however generally good. 

There are few operations in improvement more pleasant, than that of 
opening gradually a scene, where the materials are not unfit for use, 
but only too abundant ; the case is very different where they are 
absolutely spoiled, as in a thick wood of firs. In that there is no room 
for selection ; no exercise of the judgment in arranging the groups, 
masses, or single trees; no power of renewing vegetation by priming or 
cutting down ; no hope of producing the smallest intricacy or variety. 
If one bare pole be removed, that behind differs from it so little, that 
one might exclaim with Macbeth, 

« Thy air 

Is like the first — a third is like the former — 
Horrible sight ! " 

and SO they would unvariably go on, 

" Though their line 
Stretch \1 out to the crack of doom.'" 



In contrasting the character of a close wood of firs only, with that of 
the mixed evergreen plantation which I have described, I do not think 
I have at all exaggerated the ugliness, and the incorrigible sameness of 
the one, and the variety and beauty of which the other is capable. I 
mean, however, that variety which arises from the manner in which 
these evergreens may be disposed, not from the number of distinct 
species. I have indeed often observed in forests, so many combinations 
and picturesque effects produced merely by oak, beech, thorns, and 
hollies, that one could hardly wish for more variety ; on the other hand, 
I have no less frequently found the most perfect monotony in point of 
composition and effect, where there was the greatest variety of trees. 
It put me in mind of what is mentioned of the more ancient Greek 
painters — that with only four colours, they did, what in the more degene- 
rate days of the art, could not be performed with all the aid of chemistry. 

Variety, of which the true end is to relieve the eye, not to perplex 
it, does not consist in the diversity of separate objects, but in that of 
their effects when combined together — in diversity of composition, and 
of character. Many think, however, they have obtained that grand 
object, when they have exhibited in one body all the hard names of the 
Linna?an system ; but when as many different plants as can well be got 
together are exhibited in every shrubbery, or in every plantation, the 
result is a sameness of a different kind, but not loss truly a sameness, 
than would arise from there being no diversity at all ; for there is no 
having variety of character without a certain distinctness — without 
certain marked features on which the eye can dwell. In a botanical 
light, such a Linnyean collection, as I have mentioned, is extremely 
curious and entertaining ; but it is about as good a specimen of variety 
in landscape as a line of Lilly's grammar would be of variety in poetry : — 

" Et postis, vectis, vermis societur et axis." 

A collection of hardy exotics may also be considered as a very valu- 
able part of the improver's pallet, and may suggest many new and 
harmonious combinations of colours ; but then he must not call the 
pallet a picture. 

In forests and woody commons, we sometimes come from a part 
where hollies had chiefly prevailed, to another where junipers or yews 
are the principal evergreens, and where, perhaps, there is the same 
sort of change in the deciduous underwood. This strikes us with a 
new impression ; but mix them equally together in all parts, and di- 
versity becomes a source of monotony. 

One groat cause of the superior variety and richness of unimproved 



parks and forests, when compared with lawns and dressed grounds, 
and of their being so much more admired by painters, is, that the 
trees and groups are seldom totally alone and unconnected ; that they 
seldom exhibit either of those two principal defects in the composition 
of landscapes, the opposite extremes of being too crowded or too scat- 
tered ; whereas the clump is a most unhappy union of them both — it 
is scattered in respect to the general composition, and close and lumpish 
when considered by itself. 

Single trees, when they stand alone and are round-headed, have 
some tendency towards the defects of the clump ; and it is worthy of 
remark, that in the Liber Veritatis of Claude, consisting of nearly two 
hundred drawings, there are not, I believe, more than three single 
trees. This is one strong proof, which the works of other painters 
would fully confirm, that those who most studied the effect of visible 
objects, attended infinitely less to their distinct individual forms, than 
to their grouping and connection. 

I remember hearing what I thought a just criticism on a part of Mr. 
Crabbe's poem of the Library — he has there personified Neglect, and 
given her the active employment of spreading dust on books of ancient 
chivalry. But in producing picturesque effects, I begin to think her 
vis inertia? is in many cases a very powerful agent.* 

The great sources of all that painters admire in natural scenery, are 
accident and neglect ; for in forests and old parks, the rough bushes 
nurse up young trees, and grow up with them ; and thence arises that 
infinite variety of openings, of inlets, of glades, of forms of trees, &c. 
The rudeness of many such scenes might be softened by a judicious 
style and degree of clearing and smoothing, without injuring what 
might be successfully imitated in the most polished parts, their varied 
and intricate character. 

Lawns are very commonly made by laying together a number of 
fields and meadows, which are generally cleared of every thing but 
the timber. When the hedges are taken away, it must be a great 
piece of luck, if the trees which were in them, and those which were 
scattered about the open parts, should so combine together, as to form 
a connected whole. The case is much more desperate, when a layer- 
out of grounds has persuaded the owner 

" To improve an old family seat, 
By laivning a hundred good acres of wheat ; " 

* Should this criticism induce any person who had not read the Library, to look 
at the part I have mentioned, be will soon forget his motive for looking at it, in his 
admiration of one of the most animated and highly poetical descriptions I ever read. 



for the iusides of arable grounds have seldom any trees in them, and 
the hedges but few ; and then clumps and belts are the usual resources. 

Such an improvement, however, is greatly admired, and I have fre- 
quently heard it wondered at, that a green lawn, which is so charming 
in nature, should look so ill when painted. It must be owned, that 
it does look miserably flat and insipid in a picture ; but that is not 
entirely the fault of the painter, for it would be difficult to invent any 
thing more wretchedly insipid than one uniform green surface dotted 
with clumps, and surrounded by a belt. If, however, instead of such 
accompaniments, we supposed a lawn to be adorned with trees disposed 
in the happiest manner, still I believe it would scarcely be possible to 
make a long extent of smooth uniform green interesting in a picture ; 
such a scene, even painted by a Claude, would want precisely what it 
wants in nature — that happy union of warm and cool, of smooth and 
rough, of picturesque and beautiful, which makes the charm of his 
best compositions. 

But though such scenes as the great masters made choice of are much 
more varied and animated than one of mere grass can be, yet I am 
very far from wishing the peculiar character of lawns to be destroyed. 
The study of the principles of painting would be very ill applied by 
an improver, who should endeavour to give each scene every variety 
that might please in a picture separately considered, instead of such 
varieties as are consistent with its own peculiar character and situation, 
and with the connections and dependencies it has on other objects. 
Smoothness, verdure, and undulation, are the most characteristic beau- 
ties of a lawn, but they are in their nature closely allied to monotony. 
Improvers, instead of endeavouring to remedy that defect, towards 
which those essential qualities of beauty are constantly tending, have, 
on the contrary, added to it and made it much more striking, by the 
disposition of their trees, and their method of forming the banks of 
artificial rivers ; nor have they confined this system of levelling and 
turfing to those scenes where smoothness and verdure ought to be the 
ground-work of improvement, but have made it the fundamental prin- 
ciple of their ait. 

With respect to those objects where a very different art is concerned, 
the impressions are also very different. A perfectly flat square meadow, 
surrounded by a neat hedge, and neither tree nor bush in it, is looked, 
upon not only without disgust, but with pleasure, for it pretends only 
to neatness and utility, and the same may be said of a piece of arable 
of excellent husbandry ; but, when a dozen pieces are laid together and 
called a lawn, or a pleasure-ground, with manifest pretensions to beauty, 



the eye grows fastidious, and has not the same indulgence for taste as 
for agriculture. Where, indeed, men of property, either from false 
taste, or from a sordid desire of gain, disfigure such scenes or buildings 
as painters admire, our indignation is very justly excited — not so when 
agriculture, in its general progress, as is often unfortunately the case, 
interferes with picturesqueness or beauty. The painter may indeed 
lament, but that science which of all others most benefits mankind, has 
a right to more than his forgiveness, when wild thickets are converted 
into scenes of plenty and industry, and when gipsies and vagrants give 
way to the less picturesque figures of husbandmen and their attendants. 

I believe the idea that smoothness and verdure will make amends 
for the want of variety and picturesqueness, arises from our not distin- 
guishing those qualities that are grateful to the mere organ of sight, 
from those various combinations, which, through the progressive culti- 
vation of that sense, have produced inexhaustible sources of delight and 
admiration. Mr. Mason observes, that green is to the eye what har- 
mony is to the ear ; the comparison holds throughout, for a long con- 
tinuance of either, without some relief, is equally tiresome to both 
senses. Soft and smooth sounds are those which are most grateful to 
the mere sense ; the least artful combination, even that of a third 
below sung by another voice, at first distracts the attention from the 
tune — when that is got over, a Venetian duet appears the perfection of 
melody and harmony. By degrees, however, the ear, like the eye, tires 
of a repetition of the same flowing strain ; it requires some marks of 
invention, of original and striking character as well as of sweetness, in 
the melodies of a composer ; it takes in more and more intricate com- 
binations of harmony and opposition of parts, not only without confu- 
sion, but with delight, and with that delight (the only lasting one) 
which is produced both from the effect of the whole, and the detail of 
the parts. This I take to be the reason why those who are real con- 
noisseurs in any art, can give the most unwearied attention to what 
the general lover is soon tired of. Both are struck, though not in the 
same manner or degree, with the whole of a scene ; but the painter is 
also eagerly employed in examining the parts, and all the artifice of 
nature in composing such a whole. The general lover stops at the 
first gaze ; and I have heard it said by those who in other pursuits 
showed the most discriminating taste, " Why should we look at these 
things any more ? — we have seen them." 

" Non ragionar di lor ; ma guarda e passa." 

I ll" having acquired a relish for such artful combinations, so far from 



excluding, except in narrow pedantic minds, a taste for simple melodies 
or simple scenes, heightens the enjoyment of them. It is only by such 
acquirements, that we learn to distinguish what is simple from what is 
bald and commonplace — what is varied and intricate from what is only 

^Before proceeding to plant the grounds of a place ornamentally, 
it is necessary carefully to study its character — to become thoroughly 
acquainted with the various inequalities of its surface — to consider also 
the different soils which present themselves, and after well digesting all 
these particulars, let the improver then bestow some thought upon the 
question, how nature would have done the work, had she been pleased 
to have executed it. Here I am presupposing the existence of two 
things ; first, that the place has some variety of surface ; and secondly, 
that the improver has studied the wooding of nature, which is still 
abundantly to be met with in all the wilder parts of our own country, 
especially in Wales, or in the Highlands of Scotland, as, for example, 
in the valleys running down in all directions from the Grampians, where 
the beauty of the natural woods is so very remarkable. If the place 
is so utterly devoid of variety of surface as to be absolutely a dead flat, 
and if it has no timber on it already, the existing arrangement of which 
might suggest to the improver some design for ultimately producing 
intricacy and interest, I should be disposed to advise the proprietor to 
fix his residence elsewhere. But if he is reduced to the necessity of 
settling there, by having no other choice, I should say that the best 
advice that can well be given him, is to plant and spare not; so that al- 
though he may be able to do nothing very effectual in producing beauty, 
he may at least have the gratification of seeing his trees grow, with the 
hope of leaving behind him something, which his son or his grandson 
may work into a place. He should always bear in mind, that trees are 
more easily removed than reared, and that there is more hope of a place 
where the house stands in the middle of a forest, than there can be 
where it appears staring in the midst of a bare plain, without a single 
tree within view. But in planting — whether in the smaller groves, or 
larger woods, the different kinds of timber trees should not be mixed, 
so as to produce one general uniformity of variety, if I may so express 
myself ; but, for the most part, though perhaps not always, the indivi- 
duals of each kind should be grouped together in considerable masses, 
irregular both in form and size. The trees, moreover, should be planted 
at such distances from each other, as may enable them, when grown up, 
to stand without risk of much interference with each other, being well 



intermixed with Lollies, thorns, yews, hazels, mountain-ash, elders, 
bird-el lorries, junipers, and all the different kinds of trees and bushes 
of smaller growth. These should especially prevail about the edges of 
the grove or wood, and they should likewise be planted as much as 
possible in patches of the same plants. In short, the plantations of 
nature should be imitated as nearly as may be. The woods at a distance 
from the site of the house should be of larger dimensions, and they 
should partake more of the character of groves as they draw nearer to 
it, and as they get smaller in size, the variation of the trees of which 
they are composed, may become more frequent, and the groves and 
woods should be so arranged, as that they may play upon one another 
as you move among them — those nearer to the eye shifting upon those 
that are more distant, so as to give the idea of continuity, whilst, at the 
same time, the eye may have full permission to find its way in among 
them in different parts. And as I should rather prefer an over-doing 
than an under-doing of wood at first, so I should wish the proprietor to 
be early alive to the necessity of making frequent inroads upon the 
outline of his groves and woods, by carrying glades into them in certain 
places, and loosening their edges in others, so as by degrees to give air, 
that is relative distaflce, as well as nature, to the whole scene. But 
the attempt to convert so utterly flat and unfavourable a subject as that 
which we have now supposed to exist is rarely to be made. 

Then, if the improver has never enjoyed the opportunity of studying 
the manner in which nature plants, he will labour under great disad- 
vantages, arid must e'en make up the deficiency by availing himself a 
largely as he can of the study of the works of the best landscape painters, 
modern as well as ancient. 

But, granting that the place which is to be improved is blessed with 
some degree of variety of ground, though it should even be altogether 
without any other requisite, plantation alone may in time give wonder- 
ful charms to it. For then the sides of the steeps may be covered 
with woods, the trees of which may be brought feathering loosely down 
from the denser parts, and scattered in irregular confusion upon the 
sloping lawns. Dingles and dells may be made mysteriously intricate 
and interesting, by filling them with dark woods, and tangled thickets 
in one place, and leaving natural openings of fairy-like turf in others, 
on which the richest mellowed lights may fall. Groves and dense 
coverts may clothe the knolls, and straggle towards one another with 
a species of broken continuity, so as to leave no mass in a staring and 
isolated condition — and the whole may thus be made to resemble a por- 
tion of one of Nature's own wild woodland scenes. 



The question will naturally arise, how many years must elapse before 
such a change could be effected on a perfectly treeless jjlace ? The 
answer to this question will naturally depend upon the nature of the 
soil, and the degree of liberality of expenditure which the proprietor 
may be disposed to lay out upon its plantation. But, even under cir- 
cumstances the least favourable, it may be answered by any one who 
has had the good fortune to read a most interesting volume called " the 
Blair-Adam Book" written and printed, though not published, by my 
venerable and highly respected friend the late Right Honourable William 
Adam, Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland. The 
origin of this work is thus graphically recorded in its own pages : — " It 
was on a fine Sunday, lying on the grassy summit of Bennarty, above 
its craggy brow, that Sir Walter Scott said, looking first at the flat 
expanse of Kinross-shire, (on the south side of the Ochils,) and then 
at the space which Blair-Adam fills between the hill of Drumglow, (the 
highest of the Cleish hills,) and the valley of Lochore, 'What an extra- 
ordinary thing it is, that here to the north so little appears to have been 
done, where there are so many proprietors to work upon it, and to the 
south, here is a district of country entirely made by the efforts of one 
family, in three generations, and one of them amongst us in the full 
enjoyment of what has been done by his two predecessors and himself ! 
Blair-Adam, as I have always heard, had a wild, uncomely, and un- 
hospitable appearance, before its improvements were begun. It would 
be most curious to record in writing its original state, and trace its 
gradual progress to its present condition.'" The idea thus suggested by 
Sir Walter Scott, so pleased the Chief Commissioner, that he resolved 
to carry it into effect, and thus was the Blair-Adam Book produced. 

Before the year 1733, the property of Blair-Adam, lying in an ex- 
tremely dull and unpromising country, which might be said to be entire- 
ly destitute of wood, had but one solitary ash-tree upon it. The author 
of the book divides the history of the progress of its improvement from 
this truly hopeless state, into three distinct eras, viz : — that from 1733, 
when his grandfather William Adam began his operations, to 1748, when 
he died — the second era, that from 1 748, when his father John Adam 
succeeded, to 1792, when he died — and the third, from 1792, when the 
late Lord Chief Commissioner succeeded, to the date of writing the book 
in 1834. To explain more perfectly the extent of beneficial change 
produced on the property during these different eras, the work is illus- 
trated with four plans. 

The first of these plans shows the state of the property before 1733, 
with that single tree upon it, in which it had then so much reason to rejoice, 



The second exhibits the state of the property, as left by the grand- 
father, in 1748. 

The third represents it, as left by the father, in 1792. 

And the fourth gives the whole improvements on the estate as exe- 
cuted up to 1834, and consequently it furnishes a valuable example of 
what may be accomplished in the course of a century. There being 
now about nine hundred acres of wood, great part of which is well-grown 
timber, yielding without any sacrifice of beauty, a very considerable 

Mr. William Adam, the grandfather, adopted that formal style of 
planting which prevailed in his time, so that the second plan, which 
shows the state of the property at his death, is covered with straight 
hedge-rows, bisecting each other at right angles — long avenues regular- 
ly lined off, each mathematically to correspond with the other — and in 
certain places circles, some of solid plantation surrounded by lawn — 
and others of open lawn surrounded by the circle of trees. A refer- 
ence to the third plan — that of 1792 — shows that John Adam, the 
father, had not only very much increased the plantations, but that he 
had succeeded in destroying the formality of the place as left by his 
father, as well as in giving to it a considerable degree of intricacy and 
interest. But the fourth plan, that of 1834, proves that the Lord Chief 
Commissioner added both to the extent of the timber on the estate, and 
to the beauty of the place, in a still greater degree. 

In thus so £>articularly noticing Blair- Adam, I by no means desire 
to bring it forward as a perfect specimen of landscape gardening. Its 
late venerable and highly gifted owner himself, considered it in no other 
light than as a terre ornee, where agriculture, and the necessary evils 
of its accompanying fences, were objects of too great importance to be 
sacrificed, and which consequently fettered the hands of taste, though 
even these were executed with unusual care and judgment. My reason 
for selecting Blair- Adam is rather to show how much may be made of 
a place of the most unfavourable promise, by planting perseveringly, 
and with some attention to the nature and form of the ground. Where 
it has been possible, without sacrificing utility, to introduce touches of 
beauty, such favourable opportunities have not been neglected, but have 
been rendered successfully available. I need not particularize instances, 
but I may mention the Glen, and the Burn, and the Kiery Craigs, all of 
them objects of little interest until rendered interesting by the beautiful 
manner in which they have been wooded, as well as the fruit-garden, 
which, though walled on three sides, has been converted into a most in- 
teresting spot, by the manner in which it has been inclosed on the south 



side, and in a great measure surrounded by a wilderness, in which is to 
be found intermixed a profusion of evergreen trees and shrubs of remark- 
able growth. Were it a matter of prudence to make a large sacrifice 
of income to absolute taste, often in itself unprofitable. I should say 
that Blair- Adam is now in that very state in which a judicious land- 
scape gardener, with full powers and means allowed him. might produce 
the happiest effects in the shortest period of years, and with the least 
comparative labour, so as to introduce the appearance of perfect nature 
into every part of it. 

It is somewhat remarkable that it should have fallen to the lot of the 
same individuals of the same family, I mean William and John Adam, 
the grandfather and father of the Chief Commissioner, to create and alter 
another place in the same way that they did Blair-Adam. This was 
the small property of Xorth-Merchiston, near Edinburgh. It consisted 
of a square field of about thirty acres, which was surrounded bv a wall, 
and planted by the grandfather with a circle in the centre, which had 
four regular avenues breaking off from it in four different directions. 
One of these avenues terminated in a straight row of trees running at 
right angles to it and flanking a broad walk ending with a lime tree on 
each side. The vista to this walk to the east was the castle of Edin- 
burgh, and the tower of St Giles's Church, and the house was placed at 
the western end of it. John Adam broke up his father's formal lines 
here, as he did at Blair-Adam, and from what I recollect of the place 
when I visited it as a boy, the effects of his operations were very pleas- 
ing. From the intimacy that subsisted between Mr. Adam and Shen- 
stone. whom he visited at the Leasowes. it seems to be doubtful whether 
the poet's formation of that celebrated place was not materially assisted, 
if not suggested, by the hints which he received from his Scottish friend. 
The place of North Merehiston afterwards passed into other hands, and 
it has since been much demolished by having its timber greatly dimin- 
ished, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow canal carried directly through 
it, so as to subdivide it. But injured as it has been, there yet remains 
enough of beautiful features about it. to encourage a proprietor of taste 
to give it such restoration as might yet convert it into a very delightful 
villa, and the rich distant views which it commands, add much to the 
temptation to commence such an undertaking. 

In considering the effects of the growth of plantation during a 
century as exhibited at Blair-Adam. it must be remembered that a 
much shorter period of active and judicious planting may produce 
changes the most satisfactory, so as richly to reward the proprietor 
who may have so employed his time and money, both by the pleasure 




and the profit he may reap during many years of his own life. This, 
of course, will be more easily accomplished if ancient trees or older 
woods have chanced to exist already, especially if they do so amidst a 
variety of surface, and a favourable combination of natural features. 
I could mention many places where the proprietors who made the 
plantations on them still live in green vigour to enjoy the daily im- 
proving effects of their earlier operations. But the seat of a friend, 
which I have had occasion lately to visit, is at this moment particularly 
in my mind, as a most pregnant example of this. I mean Blairquhan 
in Ayrshire, the residence of Sir David Hunter Blair, Baronet. There 
the situation is peculiarly favourable, from the variety of form of the 
surrounding grounds, and the shapes of the retiring hills — from the 
noble ancient trees that exist in the vicinity of the house — as well as 
from the stream of the Girvan and its romantic glen, up which you 
approach the wider valley, where the mansion stands on its elevated 
side. But the great extent of judiciously-planted and well -grown 
woods, which Sir David has created within the short period of thirty 
years, has already had the effect of giving a noble magnitude to the 
demesne. It may now be said to be in that stage of advancement, 
when the happiest results may be anticipated ; and these will certainly 
be produced, by the gradual destruction of the hard lines inevitably 
occasioned by fences — the loosening of the edges of woods and groves 
— the introduction of glades in certain parts of them, and perhaps by 
the enrichment of portions of the more open lawns by partial planta- 

I may likewise notice Dunskey, near Portpatrick, a place belonging 
to Colonel Hunter Blair, brother to Sir David, which affords, if pos- 
sible, a still more remarkable example of what may be done by plan- 
tation, even in apparently the most unfavourable circumstances. About 
eight hundred acres of thriving wood having been got up there within 
a very short period of time, on ground generally much elevated, and 
exposed to the whole blast from the Irish Channel. In the island of 
Islay, also, Mr. Campbell of Islay, though a young man, has in his 
own time raised about thirteen hundred acres of wood, and he has now 
the satisfaction of being able to drive for miles under the shade of 
thriving trees of his own rearing. 

To conclude the few remarks which I have ventured to subjoin 
to those of Price upon planting, I shall only add, that the effects 
sought to be produced by the mixture of the different varieties of trees 
and shrubs, must be much guided by the comparative greatness or 
smallness of the place on which the improver is operating, minute at- 



tention to the introduction of particular kinds being more admissible 
in a smaller place, or in the smaller or more observed parts of a larger 
place, than in other positions. On this particular point, Mr. Wheatley 
speaks most sensibly — as indeed he does on planting in general. " All 
these inferior varieties," says he, " are below our notice in the con- 
sideration of great effects : they are of consequence only where the 
plantation is near to the sight ; where it skirts a home scene, or borders 
the side of a walk ; and in a shrubbery, which in its nature is little, 
both in style and in extent, they should be anxiously sought for. The 
noblest wood is not indeed disfigured by them ; and when a wood, hav- 
ing served as a great object to one spot, becomes in another the edge 
of a walk, little circumstances, varying with ceaseless change along the 
outline, will then be attended to ; but wherever these minute varieties 
are fitting, the grossest taste will feel the propriety, and the most 
cursory observation will suggest the distinctions — a detail of all would 
be endless, nor can they be reduced into classes. To range the shrubs 
and small trees so that they may mutually set off the beauties and con- 
ceal the blemishes of each other — to aim at no effects which depend 
on a nicety for their success, and which the soil, the exposure, or the 
season of the day may destroy — to attend more to the groups than the 
individuals — and to consider the whole as a plantation, not as a col- 
lection of plants, are the best general rules that can be given concern- 
ing them." 

One remark more, and I have done with this part of the subject. 
Nothing can be more unwise than to trust to delicate foreign trees or 
shrubs for the production of important effects, which may thus be all 
ruined by the destructive cold of some severe winter. Such tender 
strangers may be well enough introduced experimentally — but they 
should have places assigned to them where their failure may produce 
no serious blank, if they should unfortunately perish. 

I shall offer but a single word on the subject of lawns. Levelling, 
smooth shaving, and rolling, are operations only admissible close to 
the house — and even there it is better that it should be associated with 
terraces, bowling-greens, flower-knots, and such minor pieces of for- 
mality as are in keeping with that of the architecture. Everywhere 
else the lawns should be in rich and natural looking pasture, especially 
where they begin to sweep away under trees, or to lose themselves in 
the woodlands. In such places, some of the more graceful wild plants, 
such as those of the fern tribe, the great tussilago, and others, may 
occasionally be permitted to show themselves — and even tufts of whins 
may not be altogether out of place. And as it is well known that the 


best way to produce good pasture, is to put a great variety of animals 
upon it — so by having groups of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and even 
asses, constantly grazing together, you will not only thereby ensure 
the richness of the surface, but you will also add to the interest of 
your scenery by the variety of the living objects which will thus be 
seen giving animation to it. — E.] 




Of all the effects in landscape, the most brilliant and captivating are 
those produced by water — on the management of which, as I have been 
told, Mr. Brown particularly piqued himself. If those beauties in 
natural rivers and lakes which are imitable by art, and the selections of 
them in the works of great painters, be the proper objects of imitation, 
Mr. Brown grossly mistook his talent ; for among all his tame produc- 
tions, his pieces of made water are perhaps the most so. 

One striking property of water, and that which most distinguishes it 
from the grosser element of earth, is its being a mirror ; and a mirror 
which gives a peculiar freshness and tenderness to the colours it reflects. 
It softens the stronger lights, though the lucid veil it throws over them 
seems hardly to diminish their brilliancy, and gives breadth, and often 
depth, to the shadows, while from its glassy surface they gain a peculiar 
look of transparency. These beautiful and varied effects, however, are 
chiefly produced by the near objects — by trees and bushes immediately 
on the banks, by those which hang over the water, and form dark coves 
beneath their branches — by various tints of the soil where the ground is 
broken — by roots, and old trunks of trees — by tussucks of rushes, and 
by large stones that are partly whitened by the air, and partly covered 



with mosses, lichens, and weather-stains ; while the soft tufts of grass, 
and the smooth verdure of meadows with which they arc intermixed, 
appear a thousand times more soft, smooth, and verdant by such con- 

But to produce reflections there must be objects ; for, according to a 
maxim I have heard quoted from the old law of France, (a maxim that 
hardly required the sanction of such venerable authority,) ou il riy a 
rien, le roi perd ses droits ; and this is generally a case in point with 
respect to Mr. Brown's artificial rivers. Even when, according to Mr. 
AValpole's description, " a few trees, scattered here and there on its 
edges, sprinkle the tame bank that accompanies its meanders," the re- 
flections would not have any great variety, or brilliancy. The passage 
I have quoted is in his Treatise on Modern Gardening. The general 
tenor of that part is in commendation of the present style of made 
water ; but this passage contains more just and pointed satire than 
ever was conveyed in the same number of words : " a few trees scattered 
here and there on its edges, sprinkle the tame bank." It seems to me 
that in the midst of praises, his natural taste breaks out into criticism, 
perhaps unintended, and which, on that account, may well sting the 
improver who reads them ; for the sting is always much sharper when 

" Medio de fonte leporum 
Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat." 

The meanders of a river, which at every turn present scenes of a 
different character, make us strongly feel the use and the charm of 
them ; but when the same sweeps return as regularly as the steps of 
a minuet, the eye is quite wearied with following them over and over 
again. What makes the sweeps much more formal, is their extreme 
nakedness. The sprinkling of a few scattered trees on their edges 
will not do ; there must be masses, and groups, and various degrees 
of openings, and concealment — and by such means, some little variety 
may be given even to these tame banks, for tame they always will 
remain : and it may here be observed, that the same objects which 
produce reflections, produce also variety of outline, of tints, of lights and 
shadows, as well as intricacy. So intimate is the connection between 
all these different beauties ; so often does the absence of one of them 
imply the absence of the others. 

In the turns of a beautiful river, the lines are so varied with projec- 
tions, coves, and inlets — with smooth and broken ground — with some 
parts open, and with others fringed and overhung with trees and bushes — 
with peeping rocks, large mossy stones, and all their soft and brilliant 



reflections, that the eye lingers upon them ; the two banks seem as it 
were to protract their meeting, and to form their junction insensibly, 
they so blend and unite with each other. In Mr. Brown's naked canals, 
nothing detains the eye a moment ; and the two bare sharp extremities 
appear to cut into each other. If in such productions a near approach 
to mathematical exactness were a merit instead of a defect, the sweeps 
of Mr. Brown's water would be admirable : for many of them seem not 
to have been formed by degrees with the spade, but scooped out at once 
by an immense iron crescent, which after cutting out the indented part 
on one side, was applied to the opposite side, and then reversed to make 
the sweeps ; so that in each sweep the indented and the projecting 
parts, if they could be shoved together, would fit like the pieces of a dis- 
sected map. 

When I speak of Mr. Brown's artificial water, I include, without 
much scruple, the greater part of what has been made since his time. I 
consider him as the Hercules to whom the labours of the lesser heroes 
are to be attributed, and they have had no difficulty in copying his model 
exactly. Natural rivers, indeed, can only be imitated by the eye either 
in painting or reality ; but his may be surveyed, and an exact plan 
taken of them by admeasurement ; and though such a representation 
would not accord with a Claude or a Gaspar, it might with great pro- 
priety be hung up with a map of the demesne. 

Where these serpentine canals are made, if there happen to be any 
sudden breaks or inequalities in the ground — any thickets or bushes — 
any thing, in short, that might cover the rawness and formality of new 
work — instead of taking advantage of such accidents, all must be made 
level and bare ; and, by a strange perversion of terms, stripping nature 
stark-naked, is called dressing her. 

A piece of stagnant water, with that thin, uniform, grassy edge 
which always remains after the operation of levelling, is much more 
like a temporary overflowing in a meadow or pasture, than what 
it professes to imitate — a lake or a river ; for the principal distinction 
between the outline of such an overflowing, and that of a permanent 
piece of water neither formed nor improved by art, is, that the flood- 
water is in general everywhere even with the grass, that there are no 
banks to it, nothing that appears firmly to contain it. In order, there- 
fore, to impress on the whole of any artificial water a character of age, 
permanency, capacity, and above all, of naturalness as well as variety, 
some degree of height and of abruptness in the banks is required, and 
different degrees of both ; some appearance of their having been in parts 
gradually worn and undermined by the successive action of rain and 


frost, and even by that of the water when put in motion by winds : for 
the banks of a mill-pond, which is proverbial for stillness, are generally 
undermined in parts by a succession of such accidental circumstances. 
All this diversity of rough broken ground, varying in height and form, 
and accompanied with projecting trees and bushes, will readily be 
acknowledged to have more painter-like effects, than one bare, uniform 
slope of grass ; that acknowledgment is quite sufficient, and the objec- 
tions, which are easily foreseen, are easily answered ; for there are 
various ways in which rudeness may be corrected and disguised, as well 
as blended with what is smooth and polished, without destroying the 
marked character of nature on the one hand, or a dressed appearance 
on the other ; — of this I have given some few instances in my letter to 
Mr. Repton. But as artificial lakes and rivers are usually made, the 
water appears in every part so nearly on the same level with the land, 
and so totally without banks, that were it not for the regularity of the 
curves, a stranger might often suppose that when dry weather came the 
flood would go off, and the meadow be restored to its natural state. 
Sometimes, however, it happens, that the bottoms of meadows and pas- 
tures subject to floods, are in parts bounded by natural banks against 
which the water lies, where it takes a very natural and varied form, 
and might easily from many points, and those not distant, be mistaken 
for part of a river. To such overflowings I of course do not mean to al- 
lude — the comparison would do a great deal too much honour to those 
pieces of water, the banks of which had been formed by Mr. Brown ; 
for it is impossible to see any part of them without knowing them to be 

Among the various ways in which the present style of artificial water 
has been defended, certain passages from the poets have been quoted,* 
to show that it is a great beauty in a river to have the water close to 
the edge of the grass : — 

" May thy brimmed waves for this 
Their full tribute never miss." 

ft Vivo de pumice fontes 
Roscida mobilibus lambebant gramina rivis." -J- 

To which might be added the well known passage : — 
" Without o'erflowing, full." 

* Essay on Design in Gardening, p. 203. 
•f- Claudian de raptu Proserpina?. 



I have such respect for the feeling which most poets have shown for 
natural beauties, and think they have so often and so happily expressed 
what is, and ought to be, the general feeling of mankind, that wherever 
they were clearly and uniformly against me, I should certainly, as far as 
that general sensation was concerned, allow myself to be in the wrong. 
In this case, however, I can safely agree with the poets, and yet con- 
demn Mr. Brown. With regard to the first instance, I might say, that 
without thinking of beauty, it is a very natural compliment to a river- 
god or goddess, to wish their streams always full ; but I am ready to 
admit, that by brimmed waves the poet meant as full as the river could 
be without overflowing, and that it were to be wished, for the sake of 
beauty, that rivers could be always kept in that state. All this is clearly 
in favour of an equal height of the water ; but can it be inferred from 
this, or, I will venture to say, from any passage whatever, that Milton, 
or any other poet, was of opinion that the banks ought everywhere to 
be of an equal height above the water, and the ground equally sloped 
down to it ? If it be allowed, as I presume it must, that no such idea 
is to be found amongst the poets, I am sure it can as little be justified by 
natural scenery ; for let us imagine the river to be brimful, like a canal, 
for a certain distance from any given point, and then, as it perpetually 
happens, the bank to rise suddenly to a considerable height ; the water 
must remain on the same level, but the brim would be changed, and 
instead of being brimful, according to an idea taken from Mr. Brown, 
not from Milton, the river though full, would in that place be deep 
within its banks. But still, it has been argued, when the water rises 
to the upper edge of the banks, the signs of their having been worn 
cannot appear : certainly not in Mr. Brown's canals, where monotony 
is so carefully guarded, that the full stream of a real river would, for a 
long time, hardly produce any variety. But do rivers, in their natural 
state, never swell with rain or snow, and, before they discharge them- 
selves over the lowest parts, wear and undermine their higher banks ? 
a distinction, which does not exist in what are called imitations of rivers. 
Do not the marks of such floods on the higher banks remain after the 
river has retired into its proper channel, that is, nearly to the height of 
the lower banks ? But even on a supposition of its never overflowing, 
and never sinking, the same thing would happen in some degree ; for 
it does happen in stagnant water, and must wherever there are any 
steep banks exposed to the usual effects of rain and frost. 

The image in Claudian is extremely poetical, and no less pleasing in 
reality. The passage relates, however, to a small rivulet, not to a river. 
But, supposing it did relate to a river, are we thence to infer that accord- 



ing to the poet's 1110.1111111.:, nothing but grass ought anywhere to be in 
contact with the water, and that the turf must everywhere be regularly 
sloped down to it ? that there must be no other image ? When trees 
from a steep and broken bank form an arch over the water, and dip 
their foliage in the stream ; when the clear mirror beneath reflects their 
branching roots, the coves under them, the jutting rocks upon which 
they have fastened, and seem to hold in their embrace, and the bright 
and mellow tints of large moss-crowned stones that have their foundation 
below the water, and rising out of it, support and form a part of the 
bank — would the poet sigh for grass only, and wish to destroy, level, 
and cover with turf these and a thousand other beautiful and picturesque 
circumstances ? Would he object to the river, because it was not every 
where brimful to the top of all its banks, and did not everywhere kiss 
the grass ? And are we to conclude, that when poets mention one 
beauty, they mean to exclude all the rest? 

It may possibly be said, that there are natural rivers, the banks of 
which, like those of Mr. Brown's, keep for a long time together the 
same level above the -water. There certainly are such rivers, but I 
never heard of their being admired, or frequented for their beauty. It 
is possible also, that there may be found some lake or mere, with a 
uniform grassy edge all round it ; I can only say, that such an instance 
of complete natural monotony, though it may be admired for its rarity, 
cannot be a proper object of imitation. But if an improver happens to 
be placed in a level country, should he not even there consult the 
genius loci ? without doubt, and therefore he will not attempt hanging 
rocks and precipices ; but he may surely be allowed to steal from the 
better genius of some other scene, a few circumstances of beauty and 
variety that will not be incompatible with his own. By such methods, 
many pleasing effects may be given to an artificial river even ia a dead 
flat; but where there is any natural variety in the ground, with a 
tendency to wood and other vegetation, nothing but art systematically 
absurd, and diligently employed in counteracting the efforts of nature, 
can create and preserve perfect monotony in the banks of water. 

An imitation of the most striking varieties of nature, so skilfully 
arranged as to pass for nature herself, would certainly be acknowledged 
as the highest attainment of art ; for however fond of art, and even of 
the appearance of it, some improvers seem to be, if a stranger were to 
mistake one of their pieces of made water for the Thames, such an 
error I imagine would not only be forgiven, but considered as the highest 
compliment, notwithstanding the well known exclamation of Mr. 
Brown, when he was looking with rapture and exultation at one of his 



own canals — 44 Thames ! Thames! thou wilt never forgive me !" Yet, 
strange as it must appear, no one seems to have thought of copying 
those circumstances which might occasion so flattering a deception. If 
it were proposed to any of these professors to make an artificial river 
without regular curves, slopes, and levelled banks, but with those cha- 
racteristic beauties and negligencies, which so plainly distinguish 
natural rivers from all that has hitherto been done in the pretended 
imitations of them by art, they would, in Briggs's language, " stare like 
stuck pigs — do no such thing." Their talent lies another way ; and if 
you have a real river, and will let them improve it, you will be sur- 
prised to find how soon they will make it like an artificial one ; so 
much so, that the most critical eye could scarcely discover that its 
banks had not been planned by Mr. Brown, and formed by the spade 
and the wheel-barrow. 

The lines in natural rivers, in by-roads, in the skirtings of glades of 
forests, have sometimes the appearance of regular curves, and seem to 
justify the use of them in artificial scenery ; but something always 
saves them from such a crude degree of it. If, on a subject so very un- 
mathematical, I might venture to use any allusion to that science, or 
any term drawn from it, such lines might be called picturesque asymp- 
totes ; however they may approach to regular curves, they never fall 
into them. 

I am persuaded that a very great improvement might be made in the 
banks of artificial water merely by a different mode of practice, without 
expecting from every professor the eye, or the invention of a Poussin. 
Mr. Brown and his followers have indeed shown very little invention, 
if it even deserve that name, and of that little they have been great 
economists. With them, walks, roads, brooks, rivers are, as it were, 
convertible terms ; dry one of their rivers, it is a large w r alk or road — 
flood a walk or a road, it is a brook or a river, and the accompaniments, 
like the drone of a bagpipe, always remain the same. They do not in- 
deed, always dam up a brook ; it sometimes, though rarely, is allowed 
its lil>erty ; but like animals that are suffered by the owner to run loose, 
it is marked as private property, by being mutilated. No operation 
in what is called improvement has such an appearance of barbarity, as 
that of destroying the modest retired character of a brook. I remember 
some burlesque lines on the treatment of Regulus by the Carthaginians, 
which perfectly describe the effect of that operation : 

" His eyelids they pared ; 
Good God, how he stared ! " 



Just so do those improvers torture a brook, by widening it, cutting away 
its natural fringe, and exposing it to " day's garish eye." 

If, instead of having their banks regularly sloped and shaven, or being 
turned into regular pieces of water, brooks were sometimes stopped 
partially and to different degrees of height, and every advantage were 
taken of the natural beauties of their banks, a number of pleasing and 
varied effects might be obtained. There are often parts, where by a 
small degree of digging so as to lower the bottom, or of obstruction by 
mere earth and stones, the water would lie, as in a natural bed, under 
banks enriched with vegetation ; by such means there would be a 
succession of still, and of running water — of clear reflection, and of live- 
ly motion. 

These beauties are so great, and so easily obtained, that before a 
running stream is forced into a piece of stagnant water, the advantages 
of such an alteration ought to be very apparent. If it be determined, 
nothing that may compensate for such a loss should be neglected ; and 
as the water itself can have but one uniform surface, every variety of 
which banks are capable, should be studied both from nature and paint- 
ing, and those selected, which will best accord with the general scenery. 
Objects of reflection are peculiarly required, for besides their distinct 
beauty, they soften the cold white glare of what is usually called a fine 
sheet of water — an expression which contains a very just criticism on 
what it seems to commend ; for certainly water is far from being in its 
most beautiful state, when it is most like the object to which it is thus 
compared. Collins, indeed, in his Ode to Evening, has used this kind 
of expression with great propriety : — 

'* Where some slteety lake 
Cheers the lone heath." 

For water on a heath, where there are scarcely any objects of reflection, 
has a sheety appearance ; yet in such a situation, and towards the close 
of day, a cheering one. There is, however, one kind of scenery by which 
the expression may be still more naturally suggested ; and I can easily 
conceive that on seeing a piece of made water in its usual naked state, 
any person might be struck with the uniform whiteness of the water 
itself, and the uniform greenness, and exact level of its banks, or rather 
its border ; the idea of linen spread upon grass might thence very 
naturally occur to him, which in civil language he would express by a 
fine sheet of water. This has always been meant and taken as a flatter- 
ing expression, though nothing can more pointedly describe the defects 
of such a scene ; for had there been any variety in the banks, with deep 


shades, brilliant lights and reflections, the idea of a sheet would hardly 
have suggested itself, or if it had, he who made such a comparison would 
have made a very bad one, 

" And likeivd things that are not like at all." 

But in the other case, nothing can be more alike than a sheet of water, 
and a real sheet ; and wherever there is a large bleaching -ground, the 
most exact imitations of Mr. Brown's lakes and rivers might be made 
in linen, and they would be just as proper objects of jealousy to the 
Thames as any of his performances. 

I happened to be at a gentleman's house, the architect of which, (to 
use Colin Campbell's expression,) " had not preserved the majesty of 
the front from the ill effect of crowded apertures." A neighbour of 
his, meaning to pay him a compliment on the number and closeness of 
his windows, exclaimed, " What a charming house you have ! — Upon 
my word it is quite like a lantern." I must own I think the two 
compliments equally flattering ; but a charming lantern has not yet 
had the success of a fine sheet. 

I am aware that Mr. Brown's admirers, with one voice, will quote 
the great piece of water at Blenheim, as a complete answer to all I 
have said against him on this subject. No one can admire more highly 
than I do that most princely of all places ; but it would be doing 
great injustice to nature and Vanbrugh, not to distinguish their merits 
in forming it from those of Mr. Brown. 

If there be an improvement more obvious than all others, it is that 
of damming up a stream which flows on a gentle level through a valley ; 
and it required no effort of genius to place the head, as Mr. Brown 
has done, in the narrowest and most concealed part. He has, indeed, 
the negative merit (and it is one to which he is not always entitled,) 
of having left the opposite bank of wood in its natural state ; and had 
he profited by so excellent a model — had he formed and planted the 
other more distant banks, so as to have continued something of the 
same style and character round the lake, though with those diversities 
which would naturally have occurred to a man of the least invention, 
he would, in my opinion, have had some claim to a title created since 
his time — a title of no small pretension — that of landscape gardener. 
But if the banks above and near the bridge were formed or even ap- 
proved of by him, his taste had more of the engineer than the painter; 
for they have so strong a resemblance to the glacis of a fortification, 
that we might suppose the shape had been given them in compliment 
to the first Duke of Marlborough's campaigns in Flanders. 



The bank near the house which is opposite to the wooded one, and 
which forms part of the pleasure-ground, is extremely well done — for 
that required a high degree of polish, and there the gardener was at 
home. Without meaning to detract from his real merit in that part, 
hut at the same time to reduce it to what appears to me its just value, 
I must observe that two things have contributed to give it a rich effect 
at a distance, as well as a varied and dressed look within itself. In 
the first place, there were several old trees there before be began his 
works, and their high and spreading tops would unavoidably prevent 
that dead flatness of outline, cet air ecrase, which his own close, lumpy 
plantations of trees always exhibit. In the next place, the situation 
of this spot called for a large proportion of exotics of various heights ; 
those of lower growth, though chiefly put in clumps, of which the edgy 
borders have a degree of formality, yet, being subordinate, and not 
interfering with the higher growths or with the original trees, have 
from the opposite bank the appearance of a rich underwood ; and the 
beauty and comparative variety of that garden scene from all points, 
are strongly in favour of the method of planting I described in a former 
chapter. It is clear to me, however, that Mr. Brown did not make use 
of this method from principle, for, in that case, he would sometimes, at 
least, have tried it in less polished scenes, by substituting thorns, 
hollies, &c, in the place of shrubs. Of the rich, airy, and even dressed 
effect of such mixtures, he must have seen numberless examples in 
forests, in parks, on the banks of rivers, and from them he might have 
drawn the -most useful instruction, were it to be expected that those 
who profess to improve nature should ever deign to become her scholars. 

It may be said, however, that though he did not take this method of 
giving concealment, richness, and variety to the lower part of his plan- 
tations, and of guarding against monotony in the outline above, yet 
that he meant such monotony to be prevented by constant and judicious 
thinning — that a professor's business is to form, not to thin plantations, 
and that Mr. Brown ought not to be made answerable for the neglect 
of gardeners. But a physician would deserve very ill of his patient, 
who, after prescribing for the moment, should abandon him to the care 
of his nurse, and who in his future visits should concern himself no 
farther, but let the disorder take its course, till the patient was irre- 
coverably emaciated and exhausted. Mr. Brown, during a long prac- 
tice, frequently repeated his visits ; but, as far as I have observed, the 
trees in his plantations bear no mark of his attention — indeed, his 
clumps strongly prove his love of compactness. There is another cir- 
cumstance in his plantations which deserves to be remarked — a favour- 



ite mixture of his was that of beech and Scotch firs in nearly equal 
proportion, but where unity and simplicity of character are given up, it 
should be for the sake of a variety that will harmonize, which tico trees, 
so equal in size and quantity, and so strongly contrasted in form and 
colour, can never do. 

This puts me in mind of an anecdote I heard of a person very much 
used to look at objects with a painter's eye. He had three cows ; when 
his wife with a very proper economy, observed, that two were quite 
sufficient for their family, and desired him to part with one of them — 
" Lord, my dear," said he, " two cows, you know, can never group." 

A third tree (like a third cow) might have connected and blended 
the discordant forms and colours of the beech and Scotch fir ; but every 
thing I have seen of Mr. Brown's works have convinced me that he 
had, in a figurative sense, no eye, and, if he had had none in the literal 
sense, it would have only been a private misfortune — 

" And partial evil, universal good." 

I have given what I thought the just degree of praise to Mr. Brown 
for the method in which he has planted the garden scene which ac- 
companies one part of the lake ; but to judge properly of his taste 
and invention in the management of water, we must observe those 
banks with their accompaniments, which he has formed entirely him- 
self, and that we may do without quitting Blenheim ; — below the cas- 
cade all is his own, and a more complete piece of monotony could 
hardly be furnished even from his own works. When he was no 
longer among shrubs and gravel walks, the gardener was quite at a 
loss ; for his mind had never been prepared by a study of the great 
masters of landscape for a more enlarged one of nature. Finding, 
therefore, no invention, no resources within himself, he copied what he 
had most seen, and most admired — his own little works ; and in the 
same spirit in which he had magnified a parterre, he planned a gigantic 
gravel walk — when it was dug out, he filled it with another element, 
called it a river, and thought that the noblest stream in this kingdom 
must be jealous of such a rival. 

[" Water," says Mr. Wheatley, " though not absolutely necessary 
to a beautiful composition, yet occurs so often, and is so capital a 
feature, that it is always regretted when wanting ; and no large place 
can be supposed, a little spot can hardly be imagined, in which it may 
not be agreeable. It accommodates itself to every situation — is the 
most interesting object in a landscape, and the happiest circumstance 



in a retired recess — captivates the eye at a distance — invites approach, 
and is delightful when near ; it refreshes an open exposure — it animates 
a shade — cheers the dreariness of a waste — and enriches the most crowd- 
ed view ; — in form, in style, and in extent, it may be made equal to the 
greatest compositions, or adapted to the least ; it may spread in a calm 
expanse to soothe the tranquillity of a peaceful scene ; or hurrying 
along a devious course, add splendour to a gay, and extravagance to a 
romantic situation. So various are the characters which water cau 
assume, that there is scarcely an idea in which it may not occur, or an 
impression which it cannot enforce ; a deep stagnated pool, dank and 
dark, with shades which it dimly reflects, befits the seat of melancholy ; 
even a river, if it be sunk between two dismal banks, and dull both in 
motion and colour, is like a hollow eye which deadens the countenance ; 
and over a sluggard, silent stream, creeping heavily along altogether, 
hangs a gloom which no art can dissipate, nor even the sunshine dis- 
perse. A gently murmuring rill, clear and shallow, just gurgling, just 
dimpling, imposes silence, suits with solitude, and leads to meditation ; 
a brisker current, which wantons in little eddies over a bright sandy 
bottom, or babbles among pebbles, spreads cheerfulness all around : a 
greater rapidity, and more agitation, to a certain degree are animating ; 
but in excess, instead of awakening, they alarm the senses ; the roar 
and the rage of a torrent, its force, its violence, its impetuosity, tend to 
inspire terror ; that terror, which, whether cause or effect, is so nearly 
allied to sublimity." 

There can be no doubt that water, whether running or spreading out 
in a broad lake, or pool, very much improves the animation of a place. 
Even when it is attended by the most unfavourable circumstances, it is 
sure to be productive of one grand aud ever changeful effect — I mean 
that of repeating the splendid colouring of the clouds, as well as their 
magical movements over the blue ether ; whilst its occasional reflection 
of the moon, or that of the setting sun, which kindles up the wavelets 
on its surface into golden flames, are accidents of the most gorgeous de- 
scription. However small the body of water may be, it will be found 
to yield this description of beauty in a greater or lesser degree, exactly 
in a proportion corresponding to that of its size. Some extent of water, 
then, is desirable in every scene, if it can possibly be procured. That 
place, of course, is most to be envied, where bountiful Nature has made 
it flow through its grounds in spontaneous streams of sufficient magni- 
tude, or where she has spread it abroad in some large natural basin in 
the form of a considerable lake. In both these cases the banks will at 
least be varied and irregular in shape, and with these advantages much 



may be done to increase their beauty, by judicious planting and shrub- 
bing. But where no such natural waters exist, the construction of 
artificial waters should certainly be attempted, if the nature of the 
ground, and other circumstances, will admit of their formation. I think 
that the project which most rarely succeeds, and which I honestly con- 
fess I have never, to my mind, seen successful, is that of the formation 
of an artificial river. When executed even in the most ingenious 
manner, a stranger may be deceived for a time, by the tricks which may 
be employed to hoodwink him, but his disappointment and disgust are 
just so much the greater when these tricks are found out ; when the 
ends of the pretended river are once discovered, the character of the 
piece of water as such is gone for ever, and it is always thenceforth 
regarded as a miserable cheat. The dam which confines an artificial 
lake or pool has no such offensive effect even when it is detected, for, 
artificial or natural, the piece of water still remains a lake or pool. 

But where the supply from rills or springs is sufficient, and the ground 
is at all favourable, it is quite possible to construct a piece of water which 
shall have all the appearance of a natural lake or tarn. The great 
secret for accomplishing this, is to imitate nature in all respects, as far 
as art can do so. The grand point, therefore, is, if possible, to select a 
spot where some natural valley or hollow can be most easily blocked up, 
and that with the least appearance of artifice, so as to arrest the discharge 
of the running waters it may contain, until they may swell up to such 
a height as to float it backwards to the required extent. I can con- 
ceive, nay I have seen, such situations where the shores afforded bold 
headlands, and projecting points, and where even rocky steeps, and 
broken recesses and promontories were* happily found. But where 
these do not exist already, it will require an improver of no ordinary 
talent to produce them by artificial means, so that they shall look at all 
like nature, aud if he is to fall short of this object, he had better not 
make the attempt. But much may be accomplished by plantation, and 
this should not be scanty, but so liberal as to give ample room for after 
openings, if such shall appear to be demanded. When the trees rise to 
a tolerable height, the beauty of the contrast of light and shade upon 
the water, as well as on its banks, will thus be much increased, and 
every little bay or recess will begin to have its peculiar interest. 

" Silva coronat aquas, cingens latus omne, suisque 
Frnndibus, ut velo, Phoebeos submovet ignes." 

Ovid, L. V. 

And as the lapping of the waves against the shores will every day be wear- 
ing them out more and more into a natural aspect, and as reeds, sedges, 




bullrushes, the typha, and aquatics of various other kinds, may be planted 
here and there in the shallows, and water-lilies in parts that arc a little 
deeper, the march of Nature will gradually advance, till she obtains a 
perfect dominion over the whole scene. If the piece of water be of 
such a size as to admit of its being the abode of waterfowl, it is quite 
indispensable to construct islands for their breeding and protection, 
however flat or small they may be — and if these are even covered over 
with willows, and bounded by reeds and sedges, they will add some- 
what to the effect of the whole, whilst their winged and web-footed 
inhabitants will give a continual life to the lake. As an object of in- 
terest, as w r ell as of amusement and advantage, fish should not be for- 
gotten. Nothing can be more beautiful than to behold the trouts of a 
lake rising at the flies, in a fine summer evening, in so great numbers, 
as absolutely to dimple its glassy surface. To ensure this profusion 
of fish, it is quite essential that the rill that supplies the lake should 
enter it at one end and quit it at the other, so as to produce a certain 
degree of current throughout its whole length. It is also desirable that 
as many little feeders as can be commanded should find their way into 
the lake from its sides, as it is on the small gravelly shallows which 
these form at their emboucheures, that the fish are most inclined to 
deposit their spawn ; and to promote their doing so, artificial beds of 
such gravel should be projected into the lake, where they do not natur- 
ally exist. 

Even on the smallest piece of water a swan produces a sparkling 
effect when seen amidst the bright light, or the deep green shadow 
which is thrown over the surface of the pool by the superincumbent 
foliage, and nothing gives greater animation to a scene. 

Before concluding my remarks in this place, I must beg not to be 
misapprehended as recommending the change of every full, active, 
bustling, and interesting little stream into an extensive inundation. 
Local circumstances must always guide every such determination. In 
some cases the sacrifice may be too great, and the gain too small, whilst 
in others, the change may be so manifestly of advantage, as to render 
the sacrifice highly expedient. — E.] 



I have now gone through the principal points of modern gardening ; 
but the observations I have made relate almost entirely to the grounds, 
and not to what may properly be called the garden. 

A gentleman, whose taste and feeling, both for art and nature, rank 
as high as any man's, was lamenting to me the extent of Mr. Brown's 
operations : — " Former improvers," said he, " at least kept near the 
house, but this fellow crawls like a snail all over the grounds, and 
leaves his cursed slime behind him wherever he goes." 

As the art of gardening in this extended sense, vies with that of 
painting, and has been thought likely to form a new school of painters, 
I think I am justified in having compared its operations and effects 
with those of the art it pretends to rival, nay, to instruct. These two 
rivals, whom I am so desirous of reconciling, have hitherto been guided 
by very opposite principles, and the character of their productions has 
been as opposite ; but the cold flat monotony of the new favourite has 
been preferred by many, " aye, and those great ones too," to the spirited 
variety of her eldest sister — she has, indeed, been so puffed up by this 
high favour, that she has hardly deigned to acknowledge the relation- 
ship, and has even treated her with contempt. Those also, who, from 
their situation and influence, were best qualified to have brought about 
a union between them, have, on the contrary, contributed to widen the 



breach ; for I have heard an eminent professor treat the idea of judging, 
in any degree, <>f places as of pictures, or of comparing them at all together, 
as quite absurd. In real life, the noblest part a man can act, the part 
wliich most conciliates the esteem and good-will of all mankind, is that 
of promoting union and harmony wherever occasion offers ; in the pre- 
sent case, though a breach between these figurative persons is not of 
.serious consequence to society, yet I shall feel no small pleasure and pride 
should my endeavours be successful. I have shown, to the best of my 
power, how much it is their mutual interest to act cordially together, 
and have offered every motive for such an union ; and I hope that pre- 
judices, however strongly rooted, however enforced by those who may 
be interested in the separation, will at last give way. I may, perhaps, 
be thought somewhat caustic for a peace-maker, and, I must own, 

" My zeal flows warm and eager from my bosom.'" 

But if war be made for the sake of peace, those who doubt the wisdom 
of the expedient will agree that it ought to be prosecuted with vigour. 

I never was in company with Mr. Brown, nor even knew him by 
sight, and therefore can have no personal dislike to him ; but I have 
heard numberless instances of his arrogance and despotism, and such 
high pretensions seem to me little justified by his works. Arrogance 
and imperious manners, wliich, even joined to the truest merit and the 
most splendid talents, create disgust and opposition, when they are the 
offspring of a little narrow mind, elated with temporary favour, provoke 
ridicule, and deserve to meet with it. 

Mr. Mason's poem on modern gardening, is as real an attack on Mr. 
Brown's system as what I have written. He has as strongly guarded 
the reader against the insipid formality of clumps, &c, and has equally 
recommended the study of painting as the best guide to improvers ; but 
the praise which he has bestowed on Mr. Brown himself, however 
generally conveyed, has spoiled the effect of so powerful an antidote. 
Most people, from a very natural indolence, are more inclined to copy 
an established and approved practice, than to correct its defects, or to 
form a new mode of practice from theory ; Mr. Mason's eulogium has 
therefore sanctioned Mr. Brown's system more effectually than his pre- 
cepts have guarded against it. That eulogium, however, (if I may be 
allowed to make a suggestion, which I think is authorised by the tenor 
of the poem) has been given from the most amiable motive — the fear of 
hurting those with whom he lived on the most friendly terms, and who 
had very much employed and admired Mr. Brown. Silence would, in 
such a work, have been a tacit condemnation ; still worse to have 



" damned with fain t praise;" — my idea may possibly be taken upon 
wrong grounds, but I have often admired M r. Mason's address in so deli- 
cate a situation. Had Mr. Brown transfused into his works any thing of 
the taste and spirit which prevail in Mr. Mason's precepts and descrip- 
tions, he would have deserved, and might possibly have enjoyed, the 
high honour of having those works celebrated by him and Mr. Walpole, 
and not have had them referred, as they have been by both, to future 
poets and historians. 

It may, perhaps, be thought presumptuous in an individual who has 
never distinguished himself by any work that might give authority to 
his opinion, so boldly to condemn what has been admired and practised 
by men of the most liberal taste and education ; but the force of fashion 
and example are well known, and few have such energy of mind, and 
confidence in their own principles, to think and act for themselves in 
opposition to general opinion and practice. Some French writer, whose 
name I do not recollect, ventures to express a doubt whether a tree 
wav r ing in the wind, with all its branches free and untouched, may not 
possibly be an object more worthy of admiration than one cut into form 
in the gardens of Versailles. This bold sceptic in theory had most 
probably his trees shorn like those of his sovereign. 

It is equally probable that many an English gentleman may have 
felt deep regret when Mr. Brown had metamorphosed some charming 
trout stream into a piece of water ; and that many a time afterwards, 
when, disgusted with its glare and formality, he has been heavily 
plodding along its naked banks, he may have thought how beautifully 
fringed those of his little brook once had been — how it sometimes ran 
rapidly over the stones and shallows, and sometimes, in a narrower 
channel, stole silently beneath the overhanging boughs. Many rich 
natural groups of trees he might remember, now thinned and rounded 
into clumps — many sequestered thickets which he had loved when a 
boy, now all open and exposed, without shade or variety — and all these 
sacrifices made, not to his own taste, but to the fashion of the day, and 
against his natural feelings. 

It seems to me that there is something of patriotism in the praises 
which Mr. Walpole and Mr. Mason have bestowed on English garden- 
ing ; and that zeal for the honour of their country, has made them, in 
the general view of the subject, overlook defects which they have them- 
selves condemned. My love for my country, is, I trust, not less ardent 
than theirs, but it has taken a different turn ; and I feel anxious to free 
it from the disgrace of propagating a system, which, should it become 
universal, would disfigure the face of all Europe. It is my wish that a 


more liberal and extended idea of improvement should prevail ; that, 
instead of the narrow mechanical practice of a few English gardeners, 
the noble and varied works of the eminent painters of every age and 
of every country, and those of their supreme mistress, Nature, should 
be the great models of imitation. 

If a taste for drawing and painting and a knowledge of their princi- 
ples, made a part of every gentleman's education ; if, instead of hiring 
a professed improver to torture his grounds after an established model, 
each improved his own place according to general conceptions drawn 
from nature and pictures, or from hints which favourite masters in paint- 
ing, or favourite parts of nature suggested to him, there might in time 
be a great variety in the styles of improvement, and ail of them with 
peculiar excellences. No two painters ever saw nature with the same 
eyes ; they tended to one point by a thousand different routes, and that 
makes the charm of an acquaintance with their various modes of concep- 
tion and execution : but any one of Mr. Brown's followers might say, 
with great truth, " we have but one idea among us." 

I have always understood, that Mr. Hamilton, who created Painshiil, 
not only had studied pictures, but had studied them for the express pur- 
pose of improving reai landscape. The place he created — a task of quite 
another difficulty from correcting, or from adding to natural scenery — 
fully proves the use of such a study. Among many circumstances of 
more striking effect, I was highly pleased with a walk, which leads 
through a bottom skirted with wood ; and I was pleased with it, not 
merely from what had, but from what had not been done ; it had no 
edges, no borders, no distinct lines of separation — nothing was done, 
except keeping the ground properly neat, and the communication free 
from any obstruction. The eye and the footsteps were equally uncon- 
fined ; and if it be a high commendation to a writer or a painter, that 
he knows when to leave off, it is not less so to an improver. 

This, and other parts of Painshiil seem to have been formed on the 
precept contained in the well-known lines of Tasso, in his description of 
the garden of Armida : — 

" E quel che'l bello e'l caio accrescc a Topre, 
1/ arte die tutto fa, nulla si scopre." 

Mr. Hamilton, however, is one of the very few who have profited by 
it ; for although no precept be more generally admitted in theory than 
that of concealing the art which is employed, none has been less ob- 
served in practice. It is true, however, that it must not be too strictly 
followed in all cases ; and that, like other excellent rules, it. has its 



exceptions. Every thing that belongs to buildings and architecture is 
manifestly artificial, and the concealment of art entirely out of the 
question. Whatever therefore is connected with the mansion, should 
display a degree of art and of ornament, in proportion to its style and 
character ; and I own my regret, that all the old decorations have 
been banished from an affectation of simplicity, and what is called nature. 
It is obvious, on the same principle, that all roads, walks, and com- 
munications immediately connected with the house, should be completely 
regular and uniform; and where a more extended part, as at Blenheim, 
is richly drest with shrubs and exotics, and kept in the highest state of 
polished neatness, a regular walk of the same high polish is perfectly 
in character ; but in other parts, not solely the more distant, but 
wherever there is anything of natural wildness and intricacy in the 
scene, the improver should conceal himself like a judicious author, who 
sets his reader's imagination at work, while he seems not to be guiding, 
but exploring with him some new region. Among the numberless ex- 
cellences of Homer, it is not the least that he scarcely ever appears in 
his own person : you are engaged amidst the most interesting and 
striking scenes, and are carried on from one to another in such a 
manner as to be totally unconscious of the consummate skill with which 
your route has been prepared — and his poem is the completest exem- 
plification of Tasso's precept in a more exalted art. The improver (if 
I may be allowed to compare small things with great) should pursue 
the same line of conduct in his humbler art, though by a different 
process ; and while he employs his whole skill to lead the spectator in 
the best direction through the most interesting scenes, and towards the 
most striking points of view, and to facilitate his approach to them, he 
should not strive to confine him to one single route, and should often, 
where it is practicable, conceal his having made any route at all. 
There is in our nature a repugnance to despotism even in trifles, and 
we are never so heartily pleased as when we appear to have made 
every discovery ourselves. It is this sort of feeling, as opposed to the 
one which arises from what is plainly and avowedly artificial, that 
Tasso seems to indicate by 

" 11 bello e"l euro accresce a ropre." 

It is a feeling that I have more than once experienced myself and observed 
in others, when, after having been long confined to regular walks, how- 
ever judiciously taken, we have enjoyed the dear delight of getting to 
some spot where there were no traces of art, and no other walk or 



communication than a sheep-track, or some foot-path winding among 
the thickets. 

It is in such spots as those, that art, if it interfere at all, should 
most carefully conceal itself ; and in such, a Mr. Hamilton would pro- 
ceed with a very cautious hand; but whatever effect an acquaintance with 
the fine arts, or perhaps the precept of Tasso, or the example of Homer, 
may have had on such a mind as his, nothing of that kind has influenced 
those of professed improvers ; and a style very different from that of 
Painshill has been exhibited at no very great distance from it, in a place 
begun I believe by Kent, and finished by Brown. A wood with many 
old trees covered with ivy, mixed with thickets of hollies, yews, and 
thorns — a wood, which Rousseau might have dedicated a la reverie, is 
so intersected by walks and green alleys, all edged and bordered, that 
there is no escaping from them ; they act like flappers in Laputa, and 
instantly wake you from any dream of retirement. The borders of 
these walks are so thickly planted, and the rest of the wood so imprac- 
ticable, that it seems as if the improver said — " You shall never wander 
from my walks — never exercise your own taste and judgment — never 
form your own compositions — neither your eyes nor your feet shall 
be allowed to stray from the boundaries I have traced :" — a species 
of thraldom unfit for a free country. 

There is, indeed, something despotic in the general system of im- 
provement — all must be laid open — all that obstructs levelled to the 
ground — houses, orchards, gardens, all swept away. Painting, on the 
contrary, tends to humanize the mind : where a despot thinks every 
person an intruder who enters his domain, and wishes to destroy 
cottages and pathways, and to reign alone, the lover of painting con- 
siders the dwellings, the inhabitants, and the marks of their intercourse 
as ornaments to the landscape. 

Sir Joshua Reynolds told me, that when he and Wilson the landscape 
painter were looking at the view from Richmond Terrace, Wilson was 
pointing out some particular part ; and in order to direct his eye to it, 
" There," said he, "near those houses — there! where the Jig ares are." 
— Though a painter, said Sir Joshua, I was puzzled. I thought he 
meant statues, and was looking upon the tops of the houses ; for I did 
not at first conceive that the men and women we plainly saw walking 
about, were by him only thought of as figures in the landscape. 

For the honour of humanity there are minds, which require no other 
motive than what passes within. And here I cannot resist paying a 
tribute to the memory of a beloved uncle, and recording a benevolence 


C 2SS 

towards all the inhabitants around him, that struck me from my earliest 
remembrance ; and it is an impression I wish always to cherish. It 
seemed as if he had made his extensive walks as much for them as for 
himself ; they used them as freely, and their enjoyment was his. The 
village bore as strong marks of his and of his brother's attentions (for in 
that respect they appeared to have but one mind) to the comforts and 
pleasures of its inhabitants. Such attentive kindnesses are amply repaid 
by affectionate regard and reverence ; and were they general through- 
out the kingdom, they would do much more towards guarding us against 
democratical opinions 

" Than twenty thousand soldiers, armVl in proof." 

The cheerfulness of the scene I have mentioned, and all the inter- 
esting circumstances attending it, so different from those of solitary 
grandeur, have convinced me, that he who destroys dwellings, gardens, 
and inclosures, for the sake of mere extent and parade of property, 
only extends the bounds of monotony, and of dreary selfish pride ; but 
contracts those of variety, amusement, and humanity. 

I own it does surprise me, that in an age, and in a country where 
the arts are so highly cultivated, one single plan, and such a plan, 
should have been so generally adopted ; and that even the love of 
peculiarity should not sometimes have checked this method of levelling 
nil distinctions, of making all places alike — all equally tame and in- 
sipid. A person, well known for his taste and abilities, being at a 
gentleman's house where Mr. Brown was expected, drew a plan by 
anticipation, which proved so exact, that I believe the ridicule it 
threw on the serious plan, helped to prevent its execution. 

Few persons have been so lucky as never to have seen or heard the 
true proser; smiling, and distinctly uttering his flowing commonplace 
nothings, with the same placid countenance, the same even-toned 
voice — he is the very emblem of serpentine walks, belts, and rivers, 
and all Mr. Brown's works — like him they are smooth, flowing, even, 
and distinct — and like him they wear one's soul out. 

There is a very different being of a much rarer kind, who hardly 
appears to be of the same species — full of unexpected turns, of flashes 
of light — objects the most familiar are placed by him in such singular, 
yet natural points of view — he strikes out such unthought-of agree- 
ments and contrasts — such combinations, so little obvious, yet never 
forced nor affected, that the attention cannot flag — but from the de- 
light of what is passed, we eagerly listen for what is to come. This is 
the true picturesque, and the propriety of that term will be more felt, 


if we attend to what corresponds to the beautiful in conversation. 
How different is the effect of that soft insinuating style — of those 
gentle transitions, which, without dazzling or surprising, keep up an 
increasing interest, and insensibly wind round the heart. 

It is only by a habit of observation added to natural sensibility, that 
we learn to distinguish what is really beautiful, from what is merely 
smooth and flowing, and to give a decided preference to the former. 
By the same means, also, we gain a true relish for the picturesque in 
visible objects, and likewise for what in some measure answers to it — 
the quick, lively, and sudden turns of fancy in conversation. I have 
sometimes seen a proser quite forlorn in the company of a man of bril- 
liant imagination ; lie seemed " dazzled with excess of light," his dull 
faculties totally unable to keep pace with tbe other's rapid ideas. I 
have afterwards observed the same man get close to a brother proser ; 
and the two snails have travelled on so comfortably upon their own 
slime, that they seemed to feel no more impression either of pleasure or 
envy from what they had heard, than a real snail may be supposed to do 
at the active bounds and leaps of a stag, or of a high-mettled courser. 

This is exactly the case with that practical proser, the true improver. 
Carry him to a scene merely picturesque, he is bewildered with its variety 
and intricacy, the charms of which he neither relishes nor comprehends; 
and longs to be crawling among his clumps, and debating about the 
tenth part of an inch in the turn of a gravel-walk. The mass of im- 
provers seem indeed to forget that we are distinguished from other 
animals, by being 

" Nobler far, of look erect ; n 

they go about 

'* With leaden eye that loves the ground," 

and are so continually occupied with turns and sweeps, and manoeuvring 
stakes, that they never gain an idea of the first elements of composition. 

Such a mechanical system of operations little deserves the name of 
an art. There are indeed certain words in all languages that have a 
good and a bad sense ; such as simplicity and simple, art and artful, 
which as often express our contempt as our admiration. It seems to 
me, that whenever art, with regard to plan or disposition, is used in a 
good sense, it means to convey an idea of some degree of invention — of 
contrivance that is not obvious — of something that raises expectation, 
and which differs with success from what we recollect having seen be- 
fore. With regard to improving, that alone I should call art in a good 



sense, which was employed in collecting from the infinite varieties of 
accident (which is commonly called nature, in opposition to what is 
called art,) such circumstances as may happily be introduced, according 
to the real capabilities of the place to be improved. This is what 
painters have done in their art ; and thence it is, that many of these 
lucky accidents being strongly pointed out by them, are called pictur- 

He, therefore, in my mind, w r ill show most art in improving, who 
leaves, (a very material point) or who creates the greatest variety of 
landscapes ; that is of such different compositions as painters will least 
wish to alter: not he who begins his work by general clearing and smooth- 
ing, or, in other words, by destroying all those accidents of which such 
advantages might have been made ; but which afterwards, the most 
enlightened and experienced artist can never hope to restore. 

When I hear how much has been done by art in a place of large ex- 
tent, in no one part of which, where that art has been busy, a painter 
would take out his sketch-book ; when I see the sickening display of 
that art, such as it is, and the total want of effect — I am tempted to 
reverse the sense of the famous line of Tasso, and to say of such per- 

" 1/n.rte che millu fh, tutta si scopiv.' 




Great part of my essay was written, before I saw that of Mr. Gilpin 
on picturesque beauty. I had gained so much information on that sub- 
ject from his other works, that I read it with extreme eagerness, on 
account of the interest I took in the subject itself, as well as from my 
opinion of the author. At first I thought my work had been antici- 
pated ; I was pleased, however, to find some of my ideas confirmed, and 
was in hopes of seeing many new lights struck out. But as I advanced, 
that distinction between the two characters — that line of separation 
which I thought would have been accurately marked out, became less 
and less visible, till at length the beautiful and the picturesque were 
more than ever mixed and incorporated together, the whole subject in- 
volved in doubt and obscurity, and a sort of anathema denounced 
against any one who should try to clear it up. Had I not advanced 
too far to think of retreating, I might possibly have been deterred by 
so absolute* a veto, from such authority ; but I hope I shall not be 
thought presumptuous for having still continued my researches, though 
so diligent and acute an observer had given up the inquiry himself, 
and pronounced it hopeless. 

Mr. Gilpin's authority is deservedly so high, that where I have the 
misfortune to differ from him, his opinion will of course be preferred to 
mine, unless I can clearly show that it is ill-founded. I must, there- 
fore, endeavour to show in what respects it is ill-founded, as often as 
these points occur, and with the best of my abilities ; for anything short 
of a victory, is in this case a defeat. 

I will first mention, in general, the difficulties into which so ingeni- 
ous a writer has been led, from losing sight of that genuine and uni- 
versal distinction between the beautiful and the picturesque which he 
himself had begun by establishing, and which separates their characters 
equally in nature and in art ; and from confining himself to that un- 
satisfactory notion of a mere general reference to the art of painting 



He lias given it as bis opinion, that " roughness forms the most 
essential point of difference between the beautiful and the picturesque, 
and seems to be that particular quality which makes objects chiefly 
please in painting." He therefore has thought it necessary in some 
instances, to exclude smooth objects from painting, and to show in 
others, that what is smooth in reality, is rough in appearance ; so 
that when we fancy ourselves admiring the smoothness which we think 
we perceive, as in a calm lake, we are in fact admiring the roughness 
which we have not observed. I will now proceed to give the particular 
instances of those points in which we differ. 

Mr. Gilpin observes, that " a piece of Palladian architecture may be 
elegant in the last degree ; the proportion of its parts, the propriety 
of its ornaments, the symmetry of the whole, may be highly pleasing ; 
but, if we introduce it in a picture, it immediately becomes a formal 
object, and ceases to please." He adds, " should we wish to give it 
picturesque beauty, we must, from a smooth building, turn it into a 
rough ruin." 

Mr. Gilpin's first point was to show that a building to be picturesque, 
must neither be smooth nor regular ; and so far we agree. But, then, 
to show how much picturesque beauty (to use his expression) is pre- 
ferred by painters to all other beauty, nay, howunfit beauty alone is 
for a picture, he asserts that a piece of regular and finished architec- 
ture becomes a formal object, and ceases to please when introduced in 
a picture ; and that no painter, who had his choice, would hesitate a 
moment between that and a ruin. 

Were this really the case, we must give up Claude as a landscape 
painter ; for he not only has introduced a number of perfect, regular, 
and smooth pieces of architecture into his pictures, but into the most 
conspicuous parts of them. I should even doubt whether he may not 
have painted more entire buildings as principal objects than he has 
ruins, though more of the latter where they are only subordinate. 

Claude delighted in representing scenes of festive pomp and magni- 
ficence, as well as of pastoral life and retirement ; but if we conceive 
those temples and palaces which he painted in their perfect state, and 
which he accompanied with every mark of a flourishing and populous 
country to be deserted and in ruins, the whole character of those 
splendid compositions, which have so much contributed to raise him 
above the level of a mere landscape painter, would be destroyed. Mr. 
Gilpin cannot but remember that beautiful seaport which did belong 
to Mr. Lock, and which — could pictures choose their own possessors — 
would never have left him ; he must have observed that the architec- 



turc on the left hand was regular, perfect, and as smooth as Midi 
finished buildings appear in nature. 

But with regard to entire buildings, in contradistinction to ruins, 
the backgrounds and landscapes of all the great masters are full of 
them, and in many the ruins few in proportion ; — so much so, that in 
the numerous set of Gaspars published by Vivares, there are scarcely 
any ruins, though numberless entire buildings. 

No painter more diligently studied picturesque disposition and effect 
than Paul Veronese; yet architecture of the most regular and finished 
kind forms a very essential part of his magnificent compositions. Many 
of these splendid edifices have the most truly beautiful appearance in 
pictures, especially when they are accompanied, as in Claude's, by 
trees of elegant forms, and when every part of the scenery accords 
with their character. I believe, indeed, that we might reverse Mr. 
Gilpin's position, and with more truth assert, that a piece of Palladian 
architecture, however elegant — however well proportioned its parts — 
however well disposed and selected its ornaments — how perfect soever 
the symmetry of the whole, yet, in the mere elevation, or placed at 
the top of a lawn naked and unaccompanied, is a formal object, and 
excites only a cold admiration of the architect's ability — rbut that it 
becomes, when introduced in a picture, a highly interesting object, and 
universally pleases. I, of course, mean introduced as the best masters 
have introduced and accompanied such buildings — for there can be no 
doubt of the tendency of all regular architecture to formality. 

The skill with which that formality has been avoided by the great 
painters, without destroying smoothness or symmetry, is, perhaps, one 
of the strongest arguments in favour of studying their works for the 
purposes of improvement. 

On the subject of water, I have again the misfortune of differing 
from Mr. Gilpin. He says,* " If the lake be spread out on the can- 
vass — and in. this case it cannot be different in nature — the marmoreum 
wquor, pure, limpid, smooth as the polished mirror, we acknowledge it 
to be picturesque." No one, I believe, will be singular enough to 
deny that a lake in such a state is beautiful ; and such I am persuaded 
must always be its prevailing character, though many picturesque cir- 
cumstances should be found in the scenery around it. On this occasion 
I must beg leave to quote a passage from Mr. Locke,t on a different 
subject, indeed, but of general application. " These passions — fear, 

* Essay on Picturesque Beauty, page 22. 

-f- On the Human Understanding, octavo edit, page 208. 



anger, shame, envy, &c. — are scarce any of them simple and alone, 
and wholly unmixed with others, though usually, in discourse and 
contemplation, that carries the name which operates strongest, and ap- 
pears most in the present state of the mind." Now, if smoothness, as 
Mr. Gilpin acknowledges, be at least a considerable source of beauty — 
and if roughness, according to his own statement, be that which forms 
the most essential point of difference between the beautiful and the pic- 
turesque, it surely is rather a contradiction to his own principles to 
call a lake in its smoothest state picturesque, on account of such inter- 
ruptions to the absolute smoothness, or rather uniformity of its surface, 
as not only accord with beauty, but are often in themselves sources of 
beauty — such as shades of various kinds, undulations, and reflections. 

Upon the same grounds that he asserts the smooth lake to be pictu- 
resque, he also gives that character to the high-fed horse with his smooth 
and shining coat. If, however,* "a play of muscles appearing through 
the fineness of the skin, gently swelling and sinking into each other — 
his being all over lubricus aspici, with reflections of light continually 
shifting upon him, and playing into each other," make an animal pictu- 
resque, what then will make him beautiful ? The interruption of his 
smoothness, by a variety of shades and colours, not sudden and strong, 
but " playing into each other, so that the eye glides up and down among 
their endless transitions," certainly will not supply the room of rough- 
ness in such a degree as to overbalance the qualities of beauty, and 
abolish, as in the present instance, the very name. 

It is true, that according to Mr. Gilpin's two definitions,t both the 
lake and the horse in their smoothest possible state, are picturesque ; 
but they are no less opposite to that character, according to his more 
strict and pointed method of defining it, by making roughness the most 
essential point of difference between it and the beautiful. After so plain 
and natural a distinction between the two characters, it surely would 
have been more simple and satisfactory to have named things according 
to their obvious and prevailing qualities ; and to have allowed that 
painters sometimes preferred beautiful, sometimes picturesque, some- 
times grand and sublime objects, and sometimes objects where the two 
or the three characters, were equally, or in different degrees mixed with 
each other. 

Many of the examples that I have given of picturesque animals, are 
taken from Mr. Gilpin's very ingenious work on forest scenery. He 

* Essay on Picturesque Beauty, page 22. 
•f Vide, pages 38 ami 39. 



tlicre observes, that among all the tribes of animals scarce any one is 
more ornamental in landscape than the ass. lie adds, " in what this 
picturesque beauty consists, whether in his peculiar character, in his 
strong lines, in his colouring, in the roughness of his coat, or in the mix- 
ture of them, would perhaps be difficult to ascertain." When I read this 
passage, I had not seen the Essay on Picturesque Beauty, and it gave 
me great satisfaction to find my ideas of the causes of the picturesque 
confirmed by so attentive an observer as Mr. Gilpin, though he spoke 
doubtingly ; and I could not help flattering myself, that as his authority 
had confirmed me in my ideas, so, by tracing them through a greater 
variety of objects than his subject led him to consider, I might show 
the justness and accuracy of his suppositions. Peculiarity of character, 
on which Mr. Gilpin very properly lays a stress, naturally arises from 
strong lines and sudden variations ; what is perfectly smooth and flow- 
ing, has proportionably less of peculiar character, and loses in pictures- 
queness what it may gain in beauty. 

This leads me to consider a part of Mr. Gilpin's Essay on Picturesque 
Beauty that appears to me to be written in a very different spirit from 
the last mentioned passage, as also from several others in his works, 
which mark the true character and cause of the picturesque in a 
masterly manner, and show how much and how well he had observed. 
If the criticism I am going to make be just, Mr. Gilpin has, I think, 
laid himself open to it by his exclusive fondness for the picturesque, 
and by having carried to excess his position, that roughness is that 
particular -quality which makes objects chiefly please in painting. 
From his partiality to this doctrine, he ridicules the idea of having 
heauty represented in a picture, and, addressing himself to the person 
whom he supposes to make so unpainter-like a request, he says — " The 
art of painting allows you all you wish. You desire to have a beautiful 
object painted — your horse, for instance, is led out of the stable in all 
his pampered beauty ; the art of painting is ready to accommodate you 
— you have the beautiful form you admired in nature exactly trans- 
ferred to canvass ; be then satisfied — the art of painting has given you 
what you wanted. It is no injury to the beauty of your Arabian, if the 
. ainter thinks he could have given the graces of his art more forcibly 
to your cart -horse." :: ' 

If a person ignorant of the art of painting were to be told, that a 
painter who wished to give in any way the graces of his art, would 
prefer a cart-horse to an Arabian, he would be apt to think there was 

Essay on Picturesque Beauty. 



something very preposterous, both in the art and the artist ; and such 
must always be the consequence, when, instead of endeavouring to 
show the agreement between art and nature, even when they appear 
most at variance, a mysterious barrier is placed between them, to sur- 
prise and keep at a distance the uninitiated. To me the fact seems to 
be what we might naturally suppose, that Rubeus, Vandyke, or Wou- 
vermans, when they wished to show the graces of their art, painted 
beautiful horses — such as the general sense of mankind would call 
beautiful — gay, pampered steeds, with fine coats, and high in flesh. 
When they added, as they often did, a greater share of picturesqueness 
to these beautiful animals, it was not by degrading them to cart-horses 
and beasts of burden — it was by means of sudden and spirited action, 
with such a correspondent and strongly marked exertion of muscles 
and such wild disorder in the mane, as might heighten the freedom and 
animation of their character, without injuring the elegance or grandeur 
of their form. If by giving forcibly the graces of his art, nothing fur- 
ther is meant than giving them with powerful impression, I cannot 
help thinking that Rubens, when he was transferring from nature to 
the canvass one of these noble animals in all the fulness and luxuriancy 
of beauty, little imagined that he was throwing away his powers, and 
as little suspected that any of the rough high-boned cart-horses he had 
placed in scenes with which they accorded, were more striking speci- 
mens of the graces of his art. 

It would indeed be a wretched degradation of the art, should the 
horses of Raphael, Giulio Romano, Polidore, N. Poussin, the forms 
and characters of which they had studied with almost the same atten- 
tion as those of the human figure ; in which, too, as in the human 
figure, they had corrected the defects of common nature from their own 
exalted ideas of beauty, and from those of their great models, the 
ancient sculptors, and in which they certainly meant to display, and 
not feebly, the graces of their art — should such ennobled animals be 
thought less adapted to display those graces, than a jade of Berchem 
or Paul Potter. 

The next and last point of difference between us, is with respect to 
the plumage of birds. Mr. Gilpin thinks the result of plumage, for he 
makes no exception, is picturesque ; and the whole seems to me another 
striking instance of his exclusive fondness for that character, and of his 
unwillingness on that account to allow any beauty or merit to smooth- 
ness. Indeed, as he supposes the picturesque solely to refer to paint- 
ing, and that pictures can scarcely admit of any objects which are not 
of that character, and as he also allows (or rather asserts) that rough- 




ness is its distinguishing quality, it became necessary either to allow 
that an object might be picturesque without being rough, which would 
contradict his assertion, or to show that there were other qualities which 
would render it so in spite of its smoothness ; or, to use his own ex- 
pression, would supply the room of roughness. 

Speaking of the plumage of birds,* " nothing," he says, " can be 
softer, nothing smoother to the touch ; yet it certainly is picturesque." 
He then observes, " it is not the smoothness of the surface which pro- 
duces the effect — it is not this we admire — it is the breaking of the 
colours — it is the bright green or purple, changing perhaps into a rich 
azure or velvet black ; from thence taking a semi-tint, and soon through 
all the varieties of colours ; or if the colour be not changeable, it is the 
harmony we admire in these elegant little touches of nature's pencil." 

It is singular that the colours of birds, and particularly those of a 
changeable kind, from which Mr, Burke has taken some of his happiest 
illustrations of the beautiful, should, by Mr. Gilpin, not only be cited 
as sources of the picturesque, but as so abounding in that quality as to 
bestow on smoothness the effect of roughness. He has laid it down as 
a maxim, that a smooth building must be turned into a rough one 
before it can be picturesque ; yet, in this instance, a smooth bird may 
be made so by means of colours, many of which, with their gradations 
and changes, are universally acknowledged and admired as beautiful. 

I cannot help repeating the same question on this subject as on the 
preceding one ; if beautiful and changeable colours with their grada- 
tions, added to softness and smoothness of plumage, and to the har- 
mony of the elegant little touches of nature's pencil, make birds pic- 
turesque, what then are the qualities which make them beautiful ? 

But Mr. Gilpin himself has furnished me with the strongest proof 
how natural it is for all men, when they design to produce a picturesque 
image, to avoid all idea of smoothness. He has quoted Pindar's cele- 
brated description of the eagle, as equally poetical and picturesque; and 
such I believe it always has been thought. The ruffled plumage of the 
eagle, which Mr. Gilpin has put in italics, as the circumstance which 
most strongly marks that character, is both in Mr. West's translation, 
and Mr. Gray's imitation ; but as far as I can judge, there is not the 
least trace of it in the original. I have not the most distant preten- 
sions to any critical knowledge of the Greek language ; yet still I 
think, that by the help of those interpreters who have studied it criti- 

* Essay on Picturesque Beauty, page 2?>. 



cally, an unlearned man, if he feels the spirit of a passage, may arrive 
at a pretty accurate idea of the force of the expressions. From them it 
appears to me, that far from describing the eagle with ruffled plumes, 
or with any circumstance truly picturesque, Pindar has, on the con- 
trary, avoided every idea that might disturb the repose and majestic 
beauty of his image. After he has described the eagle's flagging wing, 
he adds, " vygov vwrov aiooost" which is so opposite to ruffled, that it 
seems to signify that perfect smoothness and sleekness given by 
moisture ; that oily suppleness so different from any thing crisp or 
rumpled ; as vygov sXaiov expresses the smooth, suppling, undrying 
quality of oil. The learned Christianus Damm interprets xvcatrcuv vygov 
vwrov a/w£2/, dormiens incurvatum (vel potius Iceve) tergum attollit; and 
the action is that of a gentle heaving from respiration during a quiet 
repose. In another place Damm interprets uy goring, mollities ; all 
equally opposite to ruffled. Indeed, we might almost suppose that 
Pindar, having intended to present an image both sublime and beautiful, 
had avoided every thing that might disturb its still and solemn grandeur; 
for he has thrown, as it were, into shade, the most marked and pic- 
turesque feature of that noble bird : xsXa/vwr/c 6' iiri bi vi<pzkav ayxuXaj 
xgar/, fiXzpaouv ahv 7tkai<sr^ov^ xare^euag ; a feature which Homer, in a 
simile full of action and picturesque imagery, has placed in its fullest 
light : 

" 'O/ V uaT aiywrioi ya/jL^uvv^i;, xyxvko%ii\cti f 

Having been bold enough to criticise both the translation and imita- 
tion of Pindar, I shall venture one step further, and try to account for 
the passages having been so rendered. I think Mr. West and Mr. 
Gray might probably have been impressed with the same idea as Mr. 
Gilpin, that the imagery in this passage was highly picturesque, but 
might have felt that smooth feathers would not accord with that cha- 
racter ; and, therefore, perhaps, (as Sir Joshua Reynolds observes on 
Algarotti's ill-founded eulogium of a picture of Titian) they chose to 
find in Pindar, what they thought they ought to have found. With 
all the respect I have for their abilities, (and Mr. Gray's cannot be 
rated too high,) I must think that by one word they have changed the 
character of that famous passage ; and it may be doubted whether they 
have improved it. 

Were the image which they have substituted represented in painting, 
it might be more striking, more catching to the eye than Pindar's ; and 
that is the true character of the picturesque : but his would have more 
of that repose, that solemn breadth, that freedom from all bustle, which 


I believe .accords more truly with the genuine unmixed characters both 
of beauty and sublimity,'"' and with the ideas of the great original. 

I have pressed strongly on all the points of difference between Mr. 
Gilpin and me, because I think them very essential to the chief object 
I have had in view — that of recommending the study of pictures and of 
the principles of painting, as the best guide to that of nature, and to 
the improvement of real landscape. Could it be supposed that for the 
purpose of his own art, a painter would in general prefer a worn-out 
cart-horse to a beautiful Arabian ; or that such pieces of architecture as 
were universally admired for their beauty and elegance, would, if intro- 
duced in a picture, become formal, and cease to please — no man would 
be disposed to consult an art which contradicted all his natural feelings. 
But were lie to be informed that painters have always admired and 
copied beauty of every kind, (and strange it would be were it other- 
wise) in animals, as well as in the human species, that they neither 
reject smoothness nor symmetry, but only the ill-judged and tiresome 
display of them ; that with regard to regular and perfect architecture, 
it made a principal ornament in pictures of the highest class, but that 
while its smoothness, symmetry, and regularity were preserved, its 
formality was avoided ; in short, that the study of painting, far from 
abridging his pleasures, would open a variety of new sources of amuse- 
ment, and without cutting off any of those which he already possessed, 
would only direct them into better channels — he might be disposed to 
consult an art, which promised many fresh and untasted delights, with- 
out forcing him to abandon all tlvose which he had enjoyed before. 

* Vide Sir Joshua RevnoldVs Notes in Mason's du Fresnof, p. 86. 







The three Essays which I here offer to the public, though detached 
from each other and from the Essay on the Picturesque, are, in respect 
to the matter they contain, and the suite of ideas they present, perfectly 
connected. In all that I have written, I have had two chief purposes 
in view — the one, to point out the best method of forming our taste 
and judgment in regard to the effect of all visible objects, universally ; 
the other, to show in what manner the principles so acquired may be 
applied to the improvement of those particular objects with which each 
man is individually concerned. 

The first step towards acquiring an exact taste and judgment in re- 
spect to visible objects, is to gain an accurate knowledge of their lead- 
ing characters ; — I, therefore, in my first Essay, traced the character of 
the Picturesque, its qualities, effects, and attractions, as distinct from 
those of the Sublime and Beautiful, through the different works of 
nature and art. 

The next step was to show, that not only the effect of picturesque 
objects, but of all visible objects whatever, are to be judged of by the 
great leading principles of Painting — which principles, though they are 
really founded in nature, and totally independent of art, are, however, 
most easily and usefully studied in the pictures of eminent painters. 
On these two points, which, I trust, I have never lost sight of in any 
part of my work, rests the whole force of my argument. If I have 
succeeded in establishing them, the system of modern Gardening. 



which, besides banishing all picturesque effects, has violated every 
principle of painting, is of course demolished. 

All such abstract reasoning, however, makes but a slight impression 
unless it be applied. I therefore took examples from the works of the 
most celebrated layer-out of grounds, Mr. Brown, and examined them, 
and his whole system and practice, by the principles which I had be- 
fore explained. It has been mentioned as an objection, that Mr. Ha- 
milton and Mr. Shenstone are in reality the most celebrated for their 
skill in laying out grounds, and, therefore, Painshill and the Leasowes 
are the true examples of the taste of English Gardening. The ac- 
knowledged superiority of men of liberal education who embellished 
their own places, is strongly in favour of the whole of my argument — 
but has nothing to do with the objection. Poussin and Le Sueur were 
models of simplicity, and were the two most celebrated painters of their 
country — but, would it be right on that account to say that Simplicity 
was the characteristic of the French school ? They were in painting 
what Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Shenstone were in gardening — exceptions 
to the national taste, not examples of it. 

The censure of modern Gardening and Mr. Brown, drew upon me 
an attack from the most eminent professor of the present time, together 
with a defence of his predecessor. Nothing could be more fortunate 
than such an opportunity, for discussing the practicability of what I had 
proposed, with a practical improver of high reputation ; as, likewise, 
of explaining and applying to particular parts of improvement, many 
positions in' my first work. 

Yet still, notwithstanding the degree of practical discussion in that 
letter, it might be said, even by those who are most partial to my 
ideas on the subject, " it is true that you have shown the tameness and 
monotony of Mr. Brown's made-water and regularly sloped banks, and 
the superior beauty and variety of those in natural lakes and rivers ; 
but by what means can these last be imitated ? how can those number- 
less varieties, which often owe their charms to a certain artless and 
negligent appearance, be produced by the dull mechanical oj>erations 
of common labourers ? If you would have us quit the present style, 
show us some method of practical improvement which may be acted 
upon." This is what I have attempted in the first of these three Es- 
says ; and the detail, which, from the novelty of the plan, I have been 
obliged to enter into, must be my excuse for its length. I must, how- 
ever, observe, that the subject is much more comprehensive than the 
title announces : the discussion is not confined to the banks of made- 



water, nor even to those of natural rivers and lakes, but is exte n ed to 
all the natural beauties and varieties of objects near the eye, which 
therefore are classed by painters under the title of foreground. All, 
who are in any degree conversant with the art of painting, know of 
what consequence foregrounds are in pictures — how interesting they 
are in themselves, and what influence they have on the effect of the 
whole. If they be of such consequence to the painter, they are of still 
greater importance to the improver. The painter can command the 
other parts of his picture equally with the foreground — can alter, or 
new model them as he likes ; but the foreground, in its more extended 
sense, or at most the middle distance, is all that is under the control of 
the improver. In this Essay I have followed the example of painters. 
I have bestowed particular pains on what is to be viewed close to the 
eye, and have worked it up more distinctly, and with greater minute- 
ness of detail — in the hope that I may induce improvers to follow the 
same example in real scenery. 

But, besides these foregrounds, of which the models are in nature, 
there are others manifestly and avowedly artificial ; which, however, 
on that account, are the best suited to artificial objects, and indeed the 
only foregrounds strictly in character with them. I have, therefore, 
in the second Essay, examined the character of the old Italian Gardens, 
and the principles on which, as I conceive, their excellence is founded. 
I have compared them with modern gardens, and have stated what 
appear to me their respective merits and defects, the situation in which 
each is most proper, and the sort of alliance that might be made 
between them. 

From the Decorations near the House, the transition was very 
natural to the house itself, and to buildings in general. In the third 
Essay, therefore, I have considered the character of Architecture and 
Buildings as connected with the scenery in which they are placed. In 
pursuing this inquiry, I have taken my arguments and illustrations 
from the works of eminent painters ; examining the style of architecture 
and of buildings in their pictures, from the temples and palaces in those 
of the higher schools, to the cottages, mills, and hovels of the Dutch 
masters, and applying the principles of the three leading characters 
discussed in my first Essay, to this particular subject — of all others the 
most calculated to show their perfect distinction. 

There are persons for whose opinion I have a very high respect, who, 
though they agree with me in the distinct character of the Picturesque, 
object to the term itself, on the ground that, from its manifest etymo- 



logy, it must signify all that can be represented in pictures with effect. 
I had flattered myself with having shown, that, according to that defini- 
tion, the word can hardly be said to have a distinct appropriate mean- 
ing ; by placing this matter in a different, possibly in a more convincing 
light, I may be lucky enough to obviate their only objection. It has 
occurred to me that the term (which is in effect the same in English, 
French, and Italian,) may possibly have been invented by painters to 
express a quality, not merely essential to their art, but in a manner 
peculiar to it : the treasures of the sublime and the beautiful, it shares in 
common with Sculpture ; but the Picturesque is almost exclusively its 
own. A writer of eminence lays great stress on the advantage which 
painting possesses over Sculpture, in being able to give value to insignifi- 
cant objects, and even to those which are offensive. Many such objects 
are highly picturesque in spite of their offensive qualities, and in a 
degree that has sometimes caused it to be imagined, that they were 
rendered so by means of them. I remember a picture of Wouvermans, 
in which the principal objects were a dung-cart just loaded, some 
carrion lying on the dung, a dirty fellow with a dirty shovel, the 
dunghill itself, and a dog, that from his attitude seemed likely to add 
to it. These most unsavoury materials the painter had worked up with 
so much skill, that the picture was viewed by every one with delight. 
Imagine all this in marble ever so skillfully executed — it would be de- 
testable. This certainly does tend to prove, that sculpture cannot 
represent with effect, objects merely picturesque. I do not mean to 
say, that the grave dignity of that noble art does not admit of a mixture 
of the picturesque ; it is clear, however, that the ancients admitted it 
with a caution bordering upon timidity. The modern sculptors, on the 
other hand, have perhaps gone as much into the other extreme ; and to 
that we probably owe the magnificent defects of Michael Angelo, the 
affectations of Bernini, and the pantomimes of some of his followers. It 
appears to me, that if the whole of this be considered, it completely 
takes away every objection to my use of the term ; for if what I have 
stated be just, it shows that by Picturesque is meant, not all that can be 
expressed with effect in painting, but that which painting can, and 
sculpture cannot express. This, in reality, forms a very just distinction 
between the powers of the only two arts imitative of visible objects ; 
and the etymology of the word, as I have accounted for it, instead of 
contradicting, sanctions the use I have made of it, and the distinction 
I have given to the character. 

The subject of modern Gardening had been so fully discussed in my 



first Essay, and in my Letter to Mr. Repton, that little remained to be 
said. In this second volume, therefore, I have seldom done more than 
make some occasional remarks upon it. It may, indeed, be thought by 
many, that I had already bestowed more time upon it, than a particular 
mode of gardening in this country would justify. On this not impro- 
bable supposition, I must say in my defence, and in some measure in 
defence of English gardening, that the present style of laying out places 
is not a mere capricious invention, but a consistent and regular system, 
founded on the most seducing qualities ; and such as are likely to 
operate in every age and country, where extensive improvement in 
grounds may become an object of attention — on smoothness, continuity 
of surface, undulation, serpentine lines, and, also, what is peculiarly 
flattering to the vanity of the owner — distinctness. The whole purpose 
of my work has been to show — not that these qualities are by any 
means to be abandoned or neglected, but that there are striking effects 
and attractions in those of a totally opposite nature ; and that they must 
be mixed with each other in various degrees, in order to produce that 
beauty of combination, which is displayed in the choicest works of art 
and of nature. 

Such a mixture so sanctioned, appears to have such obvious and 
superior claims over any narrow system of exclusion, that it is hard to 
conceive how a system of that kind could long prevail among men of 
liberal and highly cultivated minds ; yet no one can doubt the fact, 
who considers the almost universal admiration with which the exclusive 
display of smoothness, serpentine lines, &c. in our gardens and grounds 
has been viewed for more than half a century. I believe, indeed, that 
there are scarcely any bounds to the sort of idolatry which prevailed, 
and still prevails on that subject. English gardening has been consid- 
ered as an object of high and peculiar national pride ; it has been cele- 
brated, together with its chief professor, by some of the most eminent 
writers of this age, in prose and in verse ; and marbles with inscriptions, 
have been erected to the memory of Mr. Brown and his works. Such, 
indeed, is the enthusiasm of his admirers, that many of them, I am 
persuaded, would not only approve of his system being extended over 
another quarter of the globe, but would wish, that " the great globe 
itself" could be new modelled upon that system; and be made in every 
part, like one of his dressed places. Could their wish be carried into 
effect, there would really be a very curious similarity between Mr. 
Brown's finished state of the world, and the world in a state of chaos, 
as described by the poet — 

" Unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe." 


The late Mr. Owen Cambridge very pleasantly laughed at Brown's; 
vanity, by assigning him a higher sphere for his operations than any of 
those I have mentioned. lie was vapouring one day, as Mr. Cambridge 
himself told me, about the change he had made in the face of the country, 
and his hope of seeing his plans much more generally extended before 
he died. Mr. Cambridge with great gravity said, " Mr. Brown, I very 
earnestly wish that I may die before you." — " Why so ? " said Brown, 
with great surprise. " Because," said he, " I should like to see heaven 
before you had improved it." 


It might very plausibly be argued in defence of Mr. Brown and his 
followers, that however easy it may appear in theory to make an arti- 
ficial piece of water look like a natural lake or river, and to give it such 
effects as would please the eye of a painter, it would by no means be 
easy in practice. That the mode of proceeding in the two arts, (sup- 
posing the end to be the same,) is very different, as the painter executes 
his own ideas, while the improver must trust to the hands of common 
labourers ; on which account, a regular and determined form must be 
given, the lines staked out with precision, and the levels taken with 
the same regularity and exactness. This I allow to be a real difference 
between the two arts, and a real difficulty in that of gardening. But 
if difficulties were always to stop the progress of art, and if the most 
obvious and mechanical system of operation were always to be adopted — 
because it would be the easiest, because it would require no invention 
to plan, nor taste to direct it — all arts would be reduced to trades ; for 
that which makes the distinction between them would no longer exist. 
With regard to Artificial Water, whenever those circumstances which 



can give it variety and effect shall studiously be preserved, I shall think 
highly of the taste and judgment of the professor ; and should I ever 
see those circumstances created, I shall then be proud of English gar- 
dening. I shall then say that an artist, who could execute such a work 
by means of mechanical hands, not only had taste, but genius and in- 
vention, and that it seemed as if his spirit, like Hotspur's, had 

" Lent a fire 
E'en to the dullest peasant." 

I am well aware, however, not only of the intrinsic difficulty of point- 
ing out from theory what is likely to succeed in practice, but also of 
the cavils and objections which may be raised against every part of 
such an innovation, by those who are wedded to the old system ; for I 
am not sanguine enough to expect, that what I am now risking in the hope 
of promoting the real improvement of real landscapes, will be received 
by them with candour, or that any allowances will be made in favour 
of the intention. On the contrary, I know that it will be looked upon 
as a fresh invasion of the realms of perpetual smoothness and mono- 
tony — an invasion which should be repelled by every kind of weapon. 

I will begin by observing, that in order to gain a just idea of the 
manner in which we ought to form the banks of artificial pieces of water, 
the first inquiry should be, how those of natural lakes and rivers are 
formed ; for I of course suppose, that the most admired parts of them 
are the proper objects of imitation. This is an inquiry which I believe 
has never been made with that view, and which I imagine will throw 
great light upon the whole subject. 

It has been asked, indeed, by way of ridiculing the effect of time and 
accident in producing those circumstances which are generally called 
picturesque, u whether nature* is a more pleasing object in a dwindled 
and shrivelled condition, than when her vigour 4 is as great, her beauty 
as fresh, and her looks as charming, as if she newly came out of the form- 
ing hands of her Creator?'" I do not know in what manner Lord Shaftes- 
bury, from whom the latter part of this passage is taken, may have ap- 
plied it, but as it has been made use of by Mr. G. Mason, it seems to 
mean — if it mean anything — that pieces of artificial water, as they 
have generally been made, of one equal verdure and smoothness, look 
as if they were the immediate productions of the Creator ; while 
natural lakes and rivers, the banks of which must always be partially 
worn and broken, show nature in a dwindled and shrivelled condition. 

* Essay on Design in Gardening, page 204. 



How this earth did look when it was first created, or how nature 
then performed her operations, it would be as useless as it is impossible to 
know. All we are concerned in, is the present appearance of things, 
and her present operations — the constant tendency of which, so opposite 
to the supposed improvements of art, is to banish, not to create mono- 
tony ; and we really might as well reason on a supposed state of the 
moon, as on any supposed state of the earth when it was first created. 
What we can reason upon, and what can alone be in any degree to the 
purpose, is the progressive state of nature which we now observe, and 
which to us is creation. The most rational way, therefore, of imitating 
those happy effects, which we most admire in nature, is to observe the 
manner in which she progressively creates them, and instead of pre- 
scribing to her a set form, from which she must not presume to vary, 
we ought so to prepare every thing that her efforts may point out, what, 
without such indications, we never can suggest to ourselves. On this 
most material point, which I shall afterwards endeavour more fully 
and distinctly to explain, the true method of imitating nature is 
founded ; and to the total neglect of it, or rather to the most deter- 
mined aversion to such a mode of imitation, the tameness, monotony, 
and, I may add, unnaturalness of modern gardening must be attributed ; 
for those higher degrees of smoothing and polishing, which, when used 
with judgment and confined to their proper limits, have so pleasing and 
dressed an appearance, have been made, I might almost say, the pre- 
paration for improvement, as well as the final object of it. 

It can hardly be necessary to say, that I am here considering every 
thing merely in a picturesque light ; and that I am not recommending 
to those, who think only of profit and convenience, to encourage the 
effects of accident ; — they will, with equal reason, no less studiously 
guard against them. 


As all artificial pieces of water must be stagnant, it seems to me that 
the circumstances which relate to the formation of what may be called 
accidental pieces of stagnant water, should more principally be attended 
to, than those which relate to rivers. 

It often happens that large pieces of water are made for the use of 
mills or forges, by floating a valley ; where, as they are not intended 
for ornament, the banks arc left in their original state. These, though 
not accidental, may be considered in the same light. The only opposi- 
tion is between natural banks, and those where art has interfered. 

Upon the great and inimitable scale of nature, lakes are formed by 
many proportionate causes. As, for example, when the crater of a 
volcano sinks down — when a chasm remains after an earthquake — or 
when part of a mountain, falling across the bed of a river, creates a 
natural dam ; one instance of which I heard from a person who had 
been an eyewitness of the progressive effect, soon after the tremendous 
cause had taken place. This might, without impropriety, be called the 
creation of a lake ; for the only way in which the nature we are ac- 
quainted with does create them, is by some such accident as I have 

Artificial pieces of water must be formed by means of a head, of 
digging, or of both. The most beautiful, whatever be their size, will of 
course be those where digging is unnecessary — where the surrounding 
ground is of a varied character, and is indented with bays and in- 
lets variously accompanied. If such a basin be ready to receive an 
artificial lake, the improver has little difficulty about the form of his 
banks ; for the water, by insinuating itself into every creek and bay, 
by winding round each promontory, under the projecting boughs, and 
the steep broken ground, by lying against the soft verdure, and upon 
the stony or gravelly beach, will mark all the characters of the shore, 
as it will likewise mark its different heights, by a comparison with its 
own level. But where all is to be done by the spade, and the whole 
of the banks to be newly formed, the task is very different ; and here 
it will be the proper place to inquire, by what means the varieties in 
the banks of natural lakes are produced. I of course suppose, that the 
improver would wish to have many of those varieties, provided they 
could be introduced without appearing crowded or affected, and without 
injuring unity of effect and of character ; for if he be content with the 
unity of monotony, he cannot do better than take Mr. Brown for his 

I think the best method of stating this matter clearly, will be to show 
in what manner those natural lakes, of which the general form is pleas- 



ing, but which want those varieties I have been speaking of, might, 
from natural causes, have acquired them ; and then to show how art 
may so prepare the ground as to give a kind of guidance and direction 
to the operations of nature. It is easy to conceive some natural lakes, 
in which, though the shape of the ground and the turns of the water 
might, from their winding and undulation, be extremely pleasing, yet 
the monotony would be very great ; as, for instance, among bare downs, 
or close-bitten sheep-walks — for where the soil and turf are firm, the 
descent gentle and uniform, so that the rain-water, from its spreading 
easily over the general surface, does not produce any breaks or gullies 
— the monotony would arise, from what, in many points of view, might 
very justly be considered as perfections. The whole outline of the 
immediate bank in such a piece of water, would have little more variety 
than that of one of Mr. Brown's, though it would be free from its for- 
mality and affected sweeps ; and were natural wood to grow upon it, 
though that must always be a source of variety, yet alone it would not 
be sufficient ; for there are many varieties of a striking kind, which ex- 
clusively belong to ground, and of which wood cannot supply the place, 
however necessary it be to accompany, and to give them their full 
value. What is it then that would give to a lake of this kind a higher 
interest with lovers of painting, and with many other persons of natural 
taste and observation ? and what would be the causes of such a change ? 
This is the inquiry I propose to make, and this will lead to the ex- 
amples of that mode of imitating nature which I have already men- 

To give rise to picturesque circumstances in such a lake, we must 
first suppose the soil and the turf, instead of being firm, to be in parts 
of a looser texture, and consequently to be more easily acted upon by 
frost and water. The winter torrents would in that case wash some of 
the ground from the higher parts, which by degrees would accumulate, 
and form different mounds immediately above the water, and some- 
times little promontories, which would jut out into the lake. Such 
projections would not long remain bare ; for wherever soil is drifted 
down and accumulates, vegetation is particularly luxuriant : heath and 
furze, and, under their protection, trees and bushes will often spring up 
spontaneously ; and every one must have observed how much more fre- 
quently they are found on the sides of gullies and ravines, than on the 
more open parts of hills, and how much more picturesque their effect is 
in such situations. 

In other places the soil would crumble away, and the banks be 
broken, and deeply indented. Should there be any rocks or large stones, 




they, from the same causes, will partially be bared ; while the strata 
of sand, gravel, and of different coloured earths mixed with the tints of 
vegetation, will in various parts appear. The trees which often grow on 
the shallow soil above the rocks, will, as they grow old, show parts of 
their roots uncovered, and hanging over or clasping the rocks ; while 
ivy, being guarded by the same brakes which nursed up the trees, will 
climb over them and the rocks. In all this, I have supposed only parts 
of the banks to be so altered, and the other parts to remain in their 
former smoothness, verdure, and undulation. I would now ask, if two 
lakes, the one universally green and smooth, the other with the 
varieties I have described, were near each other, which would be the 
most generally admired ? I can hardly conceive that any person would 
hesitate to which of the two he would give the preference ; yet it must 
be observed, that the picturesque circumstances I have mentioned, arise 
from what, in other points of view, must be considered as imperfections, 
and what, in their first crude state, are deformities. 

I will now put the case of an improver who had been used to com- 
pare nature and pictures together, and who intended to make a piece 
of artificial water in a valley, the sides of which were uniformly green 
and sloping, like those of the lake I first mentioned. This valley I 
suppose him to be able to float nearly to the height he wished by means 
of the dam only, but that he still would be obliged to form some part 
totally by digging. Such an improver would, of course, admire the 
last mentioned lake, and be desirous of finding out how he might more 
quickly, and with greater certainty, give birth to those picturesque 
circumstances which in that must slowly have arisen from time and 
accident. He would begin by taking the level of the future water 
according to the intended height of the head, by which means he would 
have a very tolerable idea of the general form ; and he would take care 
that in digging out the mould from the sides to form the head, the 
workmen should, if possible, always keep some little way below that 
level, in order that no marks of the spade should appear after the pool 
was filled, but that he might see the exact outline which would be 
formed by the water itself. By this method, some varieties, even in the 
most unvaried ground, will present themselves ; whereas, by the usual 
method of preparing the outline with the spade according to the stakes, 
the whole of that outline must, in every instance, be stiff and formal ; it 
would be so should the level be so exactly and minutely taken, that the line 
were precisely that which the water itself would describe, and much more 
so if artificial sweeps should be made. The bank, therefore, being at first 
left in its natural form, and the water itself being his best guide with 



respect to any changes it might be proper to make, he would go round 
every part with a painter's, not a mere gardener's eye ; and, instead of 
examining how he might make the sweeps more regular, the bank more 
uniformly sloping to the water edge, and every thing more smooth, he 
would consider in what parts the varieties I have mentioned could be 
introduced most naturally, and with most effect. 

The two principal changes in the mere ground are effected, first, by 
removing earth from the banks, in order to form coves and inlets of 
various sizes ; and, secondly, by placing it upon them, in order to vary 
their height and shape, or against them, to form strong projections. The 
first of these changes is made in most pieces of artificial water, but in 
so tame and uniform a manner as to have little effect or variety ; the 
second method, I believe, has never been attempted. 

In order to keep the whole more distinct, I will begin by considering 
both the difficulty and the practicability of breaking an uniform bank 
into such forms, as, when they are accompanied by vegetation, please all 
eyes in natural lakes and rivers. 

Whenever the shaping of a bank is left to common labourers or gar- 
deners, they, of course, make it as smooth and as uniformly sloping as 
possible. Any directions to them how to break it irregularly, would 
only produce the most ridiculous notches, with visible marks of the 
spade or the pick-axe — for even a painter who was used to gardening, 
could not, with his own hand, by the immediate use of such instru- 
ments, produce any thing picturesque or natural. As art is unable, by 
any immediate operation, to create those effects, she must have recourse 
to nature, — that is, to accident, — whose operation, though she cannot 
imitate, she can in a great measure direct. If, therefore, an improver 
wishes to break the uniformity of a green sloping bank — rising, how- 
ever, from the water with a quick, though an equal ascent — he will 
oblige his workmen, after he has marked out the general forms and 
sizes of those breaks, to cut down the banks perpendicularly, and then 
to undermine them in different degrees. By this method, though he 
be unable to copy the particular breaks with which he may have been 
pleased, he will be certain of imitating their general character. By 
this method, likewise, all sameness and formality of lines will neces- 
sarily be avoided ; for, were each break to be staked out in the most 
formal manner, each to be a regular semicircle precisely of the same 
dimension, and the workmen to follow the exact line of the stakes, yet 
still by undermining it would be impossible not to produce variety. Then 
again, as monotony is the parent of monotony, so is variety the parent 
of variety. When, by the action of rain and frost, added to that of 



the water itself, large fragments of mould tumble from the hollowed 
banks of rivers or lakes, those fragments, by the accumulation of other 
mould, often lose their rude and broken form, are covered with the 
freshest grassland enriched with tufts of natural flowers; and, though 
detached from the bank, and upon a lower level, still appear connected 
with it, and vary its outline in the softest and most pleasing manner. 
As fragments of the same kind will always be detached from ground 
that is undermined, so, by their means, the same eifects may designedly 
be produced ; and they will suggest numberless intricacies and varieties 
of a soft and pleasing, as well as of a broken kind. They will likewise 
indicate where large stones may be placed in the most natural and 
picturesque manner ; for, when such stones and fragments of mould are 
grouped with each other, they not only have a better effect to the 
painter's eye, but they appear to have fallen together from the bank ; 
whereas, without such indication, without something in the form of the 
ground which accords with and accompanies them, stones placed upon 
mere turf, have seldom that appearance of lucky accident which should 
be the aim where objects are not professedly artificial. In making any 
of those abrupt inlets, the improver must consider what parts would 
most probably have been torn by floods, if the mould and the turf had 
been of a looser texture, and the general surface less calculated to spread 
the water, in order that he might give to his breaks the appearance of 
having been torn by accident. He would not, however, be guided by 
that consideration alone, but also observe where such inlets would have 
the most picturesque, as well as the most natural effect — how they 
would be accompanied, and in what manner the more distant parts 
might be introduced ; for as all strongly marked abruptnesses attract 
the eye, he would endeavour by their means to attract it towards the 
most interesting objects, or at least not towards those of an opposite 

[I conceive that in most situations it may be quite possible, with 
some sacrifice of expense, to introduce here and there broken rocky 
precipices, of more or less magnitude, that might serve to give the 
happiest variety to the aquatic scene which the improver is forming. 
There can be no difficulty of ascertaining whether the prevailing rock 
of the locality is any where found to approach within reasonable prox- 
imity to the surface. This may be a more uncertain investigation if 
the rock be of the primitive class ; but if it be stratified, it must al- 
ways be an easy matter to ascertain the depth at which it exists, at 
whatever angle the general stratification may lie. Having learned this, 
it will be quite possible, before admitting the water into the valley to 



be flooded, to open up a large irregular quarry in the sloping side of the 
hill ; and to secure the essential point that the rocks may rise naturally 
out of a certain depth of the future water, the operation of quarrying 
may be made to commence at any given depth below the line of its 
intended level. Very picturesque little irregular rocky bays might thus 
be formed, which, with the after addition of trees, shrubs, and plants, 
might give the charm of Nature to the scene, when the whole effect be- 
came mellowed by the softening touch of time. A rocky promontory 
might thus also be created, by taking advantage of a prominence in the 
hill, and quarrying irregularly into either side of it — and if the masses 
of stone that are thus quarried out were not found to be of any import- 
ant value elsewhere, they might be very advantageously employed for 
the general effect, by scattering them carelessly along certain flat parts 
of the shores within the proposed water line, or about the base of the 
newly-created cliffs, where some of them might be seen half-rising above 
the water. For this last object, the larger the blocks could be blasted 
out, and the more irregular they could be in form, the better effect 
they would have — and a due intermixture of aquatic plants would add 
to the perfection of the whole composition. — E.] 

After the improver had settled the principal points where he would 
either add or take away earth for the sake of picturesque effect, he 
would then begin to dig out the soil that might be necessary for com- 
pleting the form and size he wished to give his lake. In the manage- 
ment of this part, which must be entirely formed by digging, lies the 
great difficulty ; for if the line be exactly staked out, and the bank 
everywhere sloped down in that direction to the edge of the future 
water, perfect monotony will, as usual,' be the consequence. The art 
here consists — and it is by no means an easy one — in preserving a 
general play and connection of outline, yet varied by breaks and inlets 
of different heights and characters — it consists in avoiding sameness 
and insipid curves, yet in no less carefully avoiding such frequent and 
distinct breaks, as, from a different cause, would disfigure the outline. 

Such opposite defects might perhaps be avoided, and such opposite 
beauties be united, were improvers to observe, and even to analyze 
those banks of natural lakes and rivers, in which such beauties, without 
the defects, do exist. No one can doubt that there are natural banks 
of a moderate height, where the general play of outline is preserved by 
the connection of the parts, and yet where on a near approach, and in 
different directions, numberless breaks, inlets, and picturesque circum- 
stances of every kind are perceived. 

Let us suppose then, that all the trees, bushes, and vegetation of 

c 26 c 2 


every kind, w ere to be taken away from such a bank ; what would 
remain ? A number of rough unsightly heaps of earth, tumbled into 
irregular shapes ; with perhaps several stumps, roots of trees, and large 
stones in different parts of it. If these also were removed, nothing 
would be left but broken unequal banks of earth. The prophetic eye 
of real taste might indeed, even in this rude chaos, discern the founda- 
tion of numberless beauties and varieties ; but the rash hand of false 
taste would destroy that foundation, by indiscriminately destroying all 
roughness and inequality. 

This sort of analysis shows what is the groundwork of picturesque 
improvement j but that groundwork by no means precludes the future ad- 
mission of those softer beauties which arise from smoothness and undula- 
tion. The essential difference is, that the last-mentioned qualities may 
be given at any time, and in any degree ; whereas it is extremely diffi- 
cult to return back to abruptness. The reason of this difference is 
obvious — all smoothing and levelling can be done in a great measure by 
rule, and therefore with certainty ; but the effects of abruptness, though 
they may be prepared by design, can only be produced by accident, 
and cannot be renewed but by the same process. 

The person, therefore, who has any part of a piece of water to form 
totally anew, would, according to my conception, do well to take any 
beautiful bank of a river or lake that would suit the style and scale of 
his ground, as a sort of model ; and in some degree to analyze the 
component parts, and, as it were, the anatomy of it. He would do 
well to examine the ground with its breaks, cavities, and inequalities, 
separate from their beautiful disguise of trees and plants ; and to con- 
sider the effect which such ground gives to vegetation, as well as the 
charm which it receives from that delightful drapery of nature. In 
doing this, the improver would be following the practice of the most 
consummate masters of another art. Who does not know that Raphael, 
and almost all the eminent historical painters, though their pictures 
were only to represent the human figure in its perfect state, yet studied 
and designed the anatomical position of all the bones, muscles, &c, in 
detail ? What is still more to the point in question, the great artist 
whom I have just mentioned, accurately drew the naked forms of those 
figures, which he meant to represent with drapery ; knowing how much 
the grace and play of that drapery must depend on what was beneath, 
and that its folds were not meant to hide, but to indicate and adorn the 
forms which they covered. 

The whole of this presents the idea of ground-working in a new and 
a much higher point of view ; so perfectly new, that I believe nothing 



of the kind has hitherto been attempted, or even thought of. The diffi- 
culty is in proportion to the variety of points from which each part (as 
being part of a composition) must be considered. Mr. Brown never 
thought of picturesque composition ; and where the parts, as in his 
banks, are all alike both in form and colour, and without any break, 
there can be no difficulty with regard to their connection with each 
other, however ill they may accord with the rest of the landscape. 
Monotony is, indeed, a very certain remedy against particular defects ; 
but it may truly be said, that such a remedy is worse than almost any 

If, then, an improver were determined to avoid such unnatural 
monotony, to copy nature in her lucky varieties and effects, and to 
copy her as closely as possible, he might by way of study, and as a 
trial how far an imitation could be made to resemble a beautiful 
original, take a sort of plan of the ground, independently of the trees, 
&c. He might then mark out on the sides of the future water, the 
exact places where the mould which was dug out should be de- 
posited, but without being smoothed or levelled ; only directing that 
each heap, more or less continued and extended in length, should be 
raised to certain heights in different parts ; — all the inlets and projec- 
tions might be formed upon the same principle. This, when done, 
would be the rough groundwork, and would have something of the 
general shape of what he had admired, but with unavoidable varieties. 
Such a state of ground may be compared to the state of a picture when 
the artist has just roughly sketched in the general masses and forms. 
To a person unused to the process, the whole appears like a heap of 
confusion, and of dabs of paint put on at random — just as the ground 
in a similar state would appear like a heap of dirt, thrown about with- 
out any meaning ; and this is the state in which both painters and im- 
provers would dislike to have their works seen. But in both it is a 
necessary preparation — a rude process — through which those works 
must pass, before they can receive the more distinct and finishing 

The general form of the bank, that is, of the mere ground, being 
made out in this rude manner, the improver would next observe what 
were the other circumstances, independently of trees and vegetation, 
which gave picturesque effect to the bank of the natural river which he 
was endeavouring to imitate, and produced varied reflections in the 
water. These, he might probably find, were old stumps and trunks of 
trees, with their roots bare and projecting — small ledges of rocks, and 
stones of various sizes, either accompanied by the broken soil only, or 



fixed among the matted roots — some of them in the sides of the bank 
itself — some below it, and near the edge of the water — others in the 
water, with their tops appearing above it. In another part again, there 
might be a beach of gravel, sand, or pebbles, the general bank being 
there divided, and a passage worn through it, by animals coming to 
drink, or to cool themselves in the water. Many of these, and of 
similar circumstances, he might probably be able to produce in his new- 
formed bank, before he began the operation of planting ; nor ought he 
to be deterred by the awkward naked appearance of stumps, roots, and 
stones half-buried in dirt, but look forward to the time when dirt and 
bareness will be gone, when rudeness will be disguised, and effect and 
variety alone remain. 

Should a taste for diversifying the banks of artificial water once pre- 
vail, I am well persuaded that such an inexhaustible fund of amuse- 
ment and interest would succeed to the present dull monotony, as might 
tempt many into the opposite extreme. Just at present, however, there 
is no need of caution on that head ; and the study of pictures, by means 
of which a taste for such varieties is best acquired, will at once be the 
incentive and the corrective ; — it will point out many unthought-of 
varieties and effects, and at the same time will show in what situations 
simplicity, in what richness ought to prevail — where, and how they 
ought to be introduced in succession, so as to give relief to each other. 

When we consider the great beauty of tints, independently of form, 
and of light and shadow ; as likewise the great variety of them which 


nature does, and consequently art may. introduce into one scene of a 
river, and that with the most perfect harmony and unity of effect — it 
is quite surprising that thev should absolutely have been banished from 
the banks of artificial water, and from what are meant to be the most 
ornamented scenes. I am not here speaking of trees or their various 
tints — of which, however, little advantage has been taken on the banks 
of water, though in other places too licentious a use is often made of 
their diversity. I am now speaking of the tints of stone, and of the 
soil in broken ground, both which have this great advantage — that, al- 
though they form a more marked contrast to vegetation than any trees 
do to each other, yet they, in a peculiar degree, harmonise with other 
objects. The first of them is in many cases allowed to be highly orna- 
mental ; — the latter, I believe, may be made to accord with dressed 
scenery, at least where the banks of water are concerned ; for where 
the professed aim is that of imitating a river, surely those circumstances 
which give such effect, variety, and naturalness to rivers, ought not to 
be proscribed. On the contrary, the improver ought to make them the 
object of his search, his study, and his imitation, not only on lakes and 
rivers, but wherever there are rich and varied banks — for we must be 
sure that water and reflection would double their beauties. All such 
banks afford studies for painters, either alone, or combined with water ; 
but without some variety of tint in their accompaniments, rivers, either 
in nature or painting, would be most insipid objects. If. therefore, an 
arti>t were desired to paint a scene, in which a river was to be the 
principal feature, and were told, at the same time, that for the banks 
of it he must make use of no other colour than grass green, I imagine 
he would hardly undertake it, even if he should be allowed to differ so 
far from Mr. Brown as to vary the form as well as the light and shadow 
of those banks. Mr. Brown and his followers have confined themselves 
to the most strict and absolute monotony, in form, colour, and light and 
shadow. I trust that some years hence it will appear quite surprising, 
that professors of the art of laying out grounds should have received 
large sums of money for having planned and executed what they called 
artificial rivers ; but from which they had studiously excluded almost 
every circumstance of a natural one. except what they could not get 
rid of — the two elements of earth and water. The artist whom I have 
instanced would certainly wish to make use of such a diversity of tints 
as might create variety and interest, without glare and confusion ; and 
the improver, instead of being more restrained, may be allowed to go 
much farther than the painter — and this is a point which deserves to be 



Landscape painters have availed themselves of all the varieties which 
suited their art ; but in a painted landscape, the detail must always be 
subordinate to the general effect. It often happens that in a real fore- 
ground numberless circumstances give delight which the painter in a 
great degree suppresses ; because they would not accord with the in- 
tentional neglect of detail in the general style and conduct of his pic- 
ture, nor yet with the scale of it, compared with that of real scenery. 
But the improver, w r ho works with the materials of nature, may ven- 
ture, though still with caution, to indulge himself in her liberties — he 
may give to particular parts the highest degree of enrichment, that 
rocks, stones, roots, mosses, with flowering and trailing plants, of close 
or of loose texture, can create, without the same danger which the 
painter incurs, of injuring the whole. Such parts, when viewed at a 
distance, would only have a general air of richness ; and that is the 
character which they would have in a painted landscape. When seen 
near, they are much more rich in detail than a painter could venture to 
represent them in his foreground — they are compositions of a confined 
kind, which have seldom been carefully finished as such, though often 
sketched as studies. But had such an artist as Van-Huysum, who 
was both a landscape and a flower-painter, chosen to take a compart- 
ment of that kind by itself quite separate from the rest of the scenery, 
he would have represented it in its full detail ; and such a picture 
would have borne the same relation to a landscape, as one of those 
groups of flowers which he so often did paint, and with such wonder- 
ful truth and splendour, bear to the general view of a garden. He 
would have expressed all the brilliancy and mellowness of such a small 
composition ; and we, in dressing such parts, should endeavour to give 
them that mixture of mellowness and brilliancy which would suit such 
a picture as he, or any painter of the same character and excellence, 
would have painted. 

These are some of my reasons for thinking that the banks of artificial 
water may be more enriched, than those of rivers appear to be in paint- 
ing, or, I may add, than they are in nature, if an average were taken 
between the plain and the enriched parts of the most admired river. A 
piece of made water bears the same relation to a lake, or a river, that 
a sonnet, or an epigram, does to an heroic or a didactic poem : in any 
short poem, a quick succession of brilliant images and expressions is 
not only admired, but expected — for, as Lorenzo de Medici says ; " La 
brevita del sonetto, non comporte eke una sola parola sia vana " — 
whereas they would be ill placed in the narrative, or the connecting 
parts of a long work. The case is particularly strong with respect to 



artificial water — as it is professedly ornamental, and made with no other 

In order to point out a few of those varieties which appear to me 
most capable of being imitated by art, I will consider some of the 
different characters of the banks of natural rivers. The most unin- 
teresting parts of any river, are those of which the immediate banks 
are flat, green, naked, and of equal height. I have said uninteresting ; 
for they are merely insipid, not ugly ; no one however, I believe, calls 
them beautiful, or thinks of carrying a stranger to see them. But 
should the same kind of banks be fringed with flourishing trees and 
underwood, there is not a person who would not be much pleased at 
looking down such a reach, and seeing such a fringe reflected in the 
clear mirror. If, a little farther on, instead of this pleasing, but uniform 
fringe, the immediate banks were higher in some places, and suddenly 
projecting — if, on some of these projections, groups of trees stood on the 
grass only ; on others, a mixture of them with fern and underwood, 
and between them the turf alone came down almost to the water edge, 
and let in the view towards the more distant objects — any spectator 
who observed at all, must be struck with the difference between one 
rich, but uniform fringe, and the succession and opposition of high and 
low, of rough and smooth, of enrichment and simplicity. A little farther 
on, other circumstances of diversity might occur. In some parts of the 
bank, large trunks and roots of trees might form coves over the water, 
while the broken soil might appear amidst them and the overhanging 
foliage ; adding to the fresh green, the warm and mellow tints of a rich 
ochre, or a bright yellow. A low ledge of rocks might likewise show 
itself a little above the surface ; but so shaded by projecting boughs as 
to have its form and colour darkly reflected. At other times these 
rocks might be open to the sun, and, in place of wood, a mixture of 
heath and furze with their purple and yellow flowers, might crown the 
top ; between them wild roses, honeysuckles, periwinkles, and other 
trailing plants might hang down the sides towards the water, in which 
all these brilliant colours and varied forms would be fully reflected. 

These are a few of the numberless varieties, which it is within the 
compass of art to imitate ; they, nevertheless, have seldom, if ever, been 
tried in the style, or for the purposes that I have mentioned — not 
even those which arise from planting. But as rocks with cascades 
have been imitated with success, there can be no difficulty in placing 
trunks, or roots of trees, or in imitating many effects of stone, or of 
rocks, on a smaller scale ; especially where there is no motion to disturb 
them. With regard to the tints of soil, if sand, or any rich-coloured 



earth, be placed where it will he supported by stones, roots, or ledges of 
rocks, as it often is in nature, it will probably remain undisturbed ; as 
there would be no current, or flood to affect it. 

In all I have written on the subject of improvement, one great pur- 
pose has been to point out the affinity between landscape painting, and 
landscape gardening ; in this case, the affinity is very close indeed. 
The landscape gardener would prepare his colours, would mix and break 
them, just like the painter ; and would be equally careful to avoid the 
two extremes of glare and monotony ; every aim of the painter with 
respect to form, and light and shadow, would likewise be equally that 
of the landscape gardener. 

Between the professors of Mr. Brown's school and landscape painters, 
there certainly is no kind of affinity ; but there is one branch of the art 
of painting, from which they seem to have borrowed many of their 
principles, and their ideas of effect. I mean that branch, the professors 
of which sometimes call themselves painters in general, but who are 
more commonly known by the name of house-painters. The aim of a 
house-painter is to make every thing as smooth and even as the nature 
of what he is to work upon will allow ; and then to make it of one 
uniform colour. So did Mr. Brown. Another part of his art is to keep 
exactly within the lines that are marked out. "When, for instance, he 
is picking in (as it is termed) the frize, or the ornaments of a ceiling, 
he carefully and evenly lays on his white, his green, or his red, and 
takes care that all the lines and the passages from one colour to another 
shall be distinctly seen, and never mixed and blended with each other 
as in landscape painting. So far the two professors exactly resemble 
each other. The great difference between them is, that the former 
never proposed any of their works as landscapes ; whereas the latter, 



with almost as little pretension, have proposed theirs, not merely as 
landscapes, but as landscapes of a more refined and exquisite kind, than 
those which nature, or the best of her imitators had produced. 

It may be objected to the style I have recommended, that from the 
awkward attempts at picturesque effect, such fantastic works would 
often be produced as might force us to regret even the present monotony. 
I have no doubt that very diverting performances in roots, stones, and 
rock-work would be produced, and that alone I should reckon as no 
little gain ; for who would not prefer an absurd, but laughable farce, 
to a flat insipid piece of five acts ? There is, however, another very 
essential difference. In a made river there is such an incorrigible dul- 
ness, that unless the banks themselves be totally altered, the most judi- 
cious planting will not entirely get the better of it. But let the most 
whimsical improver make banks with roots, stones, rocks, grottos, 
caverns, of every odd and fantastic form ; even these, by means of trees, 
bushes, trailing plants, and of vegetation in general, may in a short 
time have their absurdities in a great degree disguised, and still, under 
that disguise, be the cause of many varied and striking effects. How 
much more so, if the same materials were disposed by a skilful artist ! 
There are, indeed, such advantages arising from the moisture and vege- 
tation which generally attend the near banks of water, that even quarry 
stones simply placed against a bank, however crude their first appear- 
ance, soon become picturesque ; mosses and weather-stains, the certain 
consequence of moisture, soon enrich and diversify their surface, while 
plants of different kinds spring forth between their separations, and 
crawl, and hang over them in various directions. [^Where the depth 
of the water is not to be greater than may admit of such an operation, a 
good picturesque point may be produced by the mere erection of a rude 
pier, which may be partly or entirely made of rustic wood, or altogether 
of rough and uncemented stones. A boat moored to such a pier, will 
at once convert it into a point of some interest, which cannot fail to 
improve the whole effect. — E.] If stones thus placed upright like a 
wall, nay if a wall itself may by means of such accompaniments have 
an effect, what an infinite number of pleasing and striking combinations 
might be made, were an improver with the eye of a painter, to search 
for stones of such forms and tints as he could employ to most advantage ! 
Were he, at the same time, likewise to avail himself of some of those 
beautiful, but less common flowering and climbing plants which in 
general are only planted in borders, or against walls ! We see what rich 
mixtures are formed on rocky banks, by common heaths and furze alone, 
or with the addition of wild roses and woodbines ; what new combina- 



tions might then be made in many places with the Virginia creeper, 
periploca, trailing arbutus, &c, which though, perhaps, not more beauti- 
ful, would have a new and more dressed appearance ! Many of the 
choice American plants of low growth, and which love shade, such as 
kalmeas, and rhododendrons, by having the mould they most delight in 
placed to the north, on that sort of shelf which is often seen between a 
lower and an upper ledge of rocks, would be as likely to nourish as in 
a garden. And it may be here remarked, that when plants are placed 
in new situations with new accompaniments, half hanging over one mass 
of stone, and backed by another, or by a mixture of rock, soil, and wild 
vegetation, they assume so new a character, such a novelty and brilliancy 
in their appearance, as can hardly be conceived by those who only see 
them in a shrubbery, or a botanical garden. In warmer aspects, espe- 
cially in the more southern parts of England, bignonias, passion-flowers, 
&c. might often grow luxuriantly amidst similar accompaniments ; these 
we have always seen nailed against walls, and have little idea of their 
effect, or even of that of vines and jessamines, when loosely hanging 
over rocks and stones, or over the dark coves which might be made 
among them. 

[[I have tried the experiment of allowing vines to trail wildly over rocks 
in certain favourable situations, with very happy effect. The hop may 
now and then be so used — and that grand broad-leaved plant, the 
aristolochia sepho, is especially well adapted for such purposes. — E.] 

These effects of a more dressed and minute kind, might be tried with 
great convenience and propriety in those parts of artificial pieces of 
water, which are often enclosed from the pasture grounds, and dedicated 
solely to shrubs and verdure ; while other circumstances of a ruder nature, 
and not so liable to be injured, might with equal propriety be placed in less 
polished scenes ; and by such methods, a varied succession of pictures 
might be formed on the banks of made water. Some of soft turf, and a 
few simple objects — others full of enrichment and intricacy — others par- 
taking of both those characters — yet while monotony was avoided in the 
simple parts, general breadth and harmony might no less be preserved 
in those which were most enriched, for they are preserved in the most 
striking parts of natural rivers ; which are often so full of richness, in - 
tricacy, and variety, that art must despair to rival them. 

It may, perhaps, be thought that such banks as Mr. Brown made, 
though very tiresome if uniformly continued, would be very proper for 
the simple parts of such artificial water as I have supposed ; in my 
opinion, however, they are in one sense, almost as remote from simpli- 
city as from richness. Simplicity, when applied to objects in which 



nature is professedly imitated, always implies naturalness ; by which I 
mean that all the circumstances, whether few or many, should have the 
appearance of having been produced by a lucky concurrence of natural 
causes, without the interference of art. For that reason, when a river 
is the object of imitation, the banks ought not to be made more 
regularly sloping to the edge of the water, or more exactly levelled, 
than those of gentle rivers usually are, otherwise they betray art, and, 
of course, are no longer simple. Indeed, in all such imitations the 
danger of betraying art should preA'ent too nice an attention to regular 
slopes, even though frequent precedents should be found to exist in 
nature. The case is different in the gravel walk ; for that is no imita - 
tion of nature, but an avowed piece of art — avowedly made for comfort 
and neatness. The two sides of a gravel walk may, therefore, be as 
even and smooth as art can make them, and the sweeps regular and 
uniform. From not attending to this very obvious difference, Mr. 
Brown has formed the banks of his rivers just as he did the sides of 
his walks ; he made the curves equally regular, and the lines equally 

I shall, very probably, be accused of a passion for enrichment, and a 
contempt for simplicity, as I have been of an exclusive fondness for the 
picturesque, and of a want of feeling for what is beautiful. I have the 
same defence to make against both charges — the necessity of counter- 
acting the strong and manifest tendency of the general taste towards 
monotony and baldness, to which simplicity is nearly allied, and into 
which it easily degenerates. To correct those two great defects of arti- 
ficial water, it was necessary to show the charms of variety and enrich- 
ment, and the practicability of producing them ; and as they are not 
meant to exclude simplicity, so neither should simplicity exclude them 
— they are correctives and heighteners of each other. But it must be 
observed, that the effects of enrichment can be more distinctly pointed 
out in theory, and more certainly created in j)ractice, than those of 
simplicity in its genuine sense. The charm of a simple view on a river 
consists in having a few objects happily placed. A small group of 
trees — a single tree with no other background than the sky, or a bare 
hill — a mere bush — a tussuck — may happeu to give that character, and 
any addition, any diminution, might injure or destroy quel tantino che 
fa tutto. To leave such slight but essential circumstances unaltered, 
is a matter of some feeling and judgment — to place them, still more so, 
and the attempt might often produce unconnected spots ; but stones, 

* Essay on the Picturesque, page 242. 



rocks, roots, with trees, bushes, .and trailing plants, if placed together, 
must at least produce richness and variety. 

That species of simplicity which arises from the objects being few, 
has in many cases a distinct and peculiar charm, and should in those 
eases be most carefully preserved. There is, however, another kind of 
simplicity, which is of more extensive consequence — I mean simplicity 
and unity of effect — 

" Denique sit quidvis simplex duntaxat et unum." 

Wherever intricacy, variety, and enrichment disturb that unity, they 
are highly injurious ; but where they do not, unless they should inter- 
fere with simplicity so pleasing in itself, and so clearly marked out as 
not to be mistaken, they surely in most instances will plead their own 

Hitherto I have supposed, that in some part of the ground where 
artificial water was to be made, there were originally certain inequali- 
ties and varieties of which advantage could be taken. But, it might 
be asked, what is a person to do whose house is situated in an absolute 
flat, and who still, in spite of the disadvantages of such a situation, and 
of the absence of all picturesque circumstances, is determined to make an 
artificial river ? Is he to vary the heights of his banks, or to break 
them, when all around is smooth and level ? Is he to plant bushes, or 
suffer them to grow, when the whole lawn is open and cleared ? These 
are questions which Mr. Browns admirers might ask with triumph ; 
and here, they might add, the superiority of our school of improvement, 
and the genius of its founder, appear in the clearest light. That great 
self-taught master, by reducing the banks every where to the same 
height, by sloping them regularly, and keeping them clear from all 
rubbish, has preserved, as far as it is possible, that great beauty — con- 
tinuity of surface : for in his artificial rivers, if we except the space 
which the water itself occupies, every blade of grass is seen as it was 
before the water was made. 

Very few great self-taught masters have ever existed — none, perhaps, 
strictly speaking. Mr. Brown certainly is in no sense of that number ; 
and to hear the same title given to him as to Shakspeare or Salvator 
Rosa, would raise our indignation, if the extreme ridicule did not give 
another turn to our feelings. 

It must be owned, that if the pleasure of viewing a piece of scenery 
consisted in being able to follow a surface with the least possible inter- 
ruption, Mr. Brown's method of making artificial water would be per- 
fect ; but if grouping, composition, partial concealment, variety, effect, 



be all essential requisites in the art of creating landscapes, especially 
where water is a principal ingredient, then a very different method 
must be pursued, even where the whole country is perfectly flat. In 
reality, by sacrificing the effect of water to the surface of grass, the 
character of a meadow or lawn is destroyed, yet that of a lake or river 
is not obtained ; for nothing can more completely separate and disunite 
the two parts of a meadow than a naked glaring piece of water, and 
nothing can be less like a beautiful river or lake than such a pretended 

In my opinion, he who makes a piece of water, whatever may be its 
situation, ought, in almost all cases to consider it as the principal object 
of his attention, and, instead of sacrificing its character and effects to a 
false idea of continuity and union, ought to sacrifice, if necessary, many 
real beauties, if he thereby could obtain such scenes (considered merely 
in respect to their immediate banks) as we are oftentimes delighted 
with in natural lakes and rivers. It happens, however, very fortu- 
nately, that many of those circumstances which render them so beautiful 
in themselves, serve likewise to unite them with the rest of the scenery, 
and to give greater effect and variety to the more distant parts. Bare 
shaven banks form distinct lines, which everywhere mark the exact 
separation of the two elements, but partial concealments are no less the 
sources of connection, than of variety, effect, and intricacy ; for by 
their means the water and the land, the nearer and the more distant 
parts, are blended and united with each other. 

The effects of water are always so attractive, that wherever there is 
any appearance of it in a landscape, whether real or painted, to that 
part the eye is irresistibly carried, and to that it always returns. All 
the objects immediately around it are consequently most examined ;— 
where they are ugly or insipid, the whole scene is disgraced ; but where 
they are interesting, their influence seems to extend over the whole 
scenery, which thence assumes a character of beauty that does not 
naturally belong to it. 

This strong attractive power of water, while it shows how much the 
immediate banks ought to be studied, suggests likewise another con- 
sideration with regard to its position in the general view from the house.' 
In places where the views are confined to the nearer objects, the water, as 
at Blenheim, frequently occupies a very considerable portion of the 
scenery, and mixes with almost every part of it ; but where from a 
high station the eye surveys a more extended country, the appearance 
of water which may be produced by art, bears no proportion to that 
extent, though it may greatly enliven parts of it. In such situations, 



therefore, the placing of the water ought very much to be guided by the 
objects, whether near or distant, to which it will serve as a sort of focus. 
It may happen, for instance, that the parts which would be most easily 
floated are placed amidst open common fields, amidst hedges without 
trees, or, what is worse, with stripped elms, or pollard willows ; that 
they are backed by hills of bad shapes, and divided by square map-like 
enclosures. A piece of water in that situation would infallibly draw the 
attention towards those objects, which otherwise might have escaped 
notice ; and the eye, though it might be hurt by them, will still be 
forced towards that part — for our eyes, like moths, will always be 
attracted by light, and no experience can prevent them from returning 
to it. On that account, the position of water can never be a matter of 
indifference. If the size of it be considerable, and the objects in that 
direction ugly or uninteresting, it will make their defects more con- 
spicuous, but by no means compensate those defects. On the other hand, 
the smallest appearance of water, a mere light in the landscape, may 
answer a very essential purpose — that of leading the attention to those 
parts which are most worthy of notice ; and, therefore, wherever there 
are the happiest groups of trees or buildings, the richest distances, the 
most pleasing boundaries of hills or mountains, in that direction the 
water, if possible, should be placed, so as to blend with them into one 
composition. It will then serve, not merely as a brilliant light in the 
landscape, but likewise as a bond which unites all those parts together ; 
whereas, if it be placed at a distance from them, the eye is distracted 
between objects which it would like to fix upon, and a fascinating 
splendour, the influence of which it cannot resist. . 

I now return from this more general consideration, to that of the 
banks of water in a flat ; and where also the ground through which it 
is to be made, not only is without any variety of heights and breaks, 
but even without any thickets or bushes, of which advantage might be 
taken for the purposes of concealment and of naturalness. By what 
means, then, could a piece of water be formed in such a situation, so as 
to be interesting in itself, and to give an interest to all that surrounds 
it ? I shall, in this inquiry, pursue something of the same method I 
have already taken, and consider how a natural river, according to its 
different accompaniments, might look in such a situation. Let us, 
therefore, suppose a natural river, about the usual size of those made 
by art, to pass slowly through the middle of a large flat meadow, 
totally without trees or bushes of any kind ; but having the part of its 
banks between the general level of the grass and that of the water, 
worn and broken in various degrees. Such a river would certainly 


have very few attractions ; but still the banks would have some di- 
versity, though of a rude and uninteresting kind. If one of Mr. 
Brown's followers were desired to dress such a scene, he would, of 
course, slope all those banks regularly and uniformly to the edge of 
the water — an operation by which they would lose indeed their rude- 
ness, but with it all variety of surface. Again, the banks of the natural 
river might have many irregular turns and projections, which, not being 
disguised and softened by trees or bushes, would give a harshness to 
the outline. Those of Mr. Brown's improved river would, on the 
other hand, be moulded into regular curves equally undisguised, which 
would therefore appear in all their insipid sameness — and this. I think, 
is a fair parallel between one of Nature's worst rivers, and the best of 
Mr. Brown's. Such. then, would be their respective appearance when 
naked and undisguised ; and were they left to grow wild for some 
years, and the wood which might spring up preserved, still their dis- 
tinct characters would be apparent. In the natural bank, the irregular 
turns, the inlets with projections of crumbling soil being partially con- 
cealed or disguised by vegetation, would occasion some degree of 
variety and intricacy ; while, in the other, the regularity of the curves, 
and the monotony of the slopes, would always be perceived, always 
have the same insipid artificial appearance. 

To take it again in another light. Suppose that in the same level 
country the windows of the house looked down the reach of a natural 
river, both the banks of which were completely fringed with flourishing 


trees and underwood — the ground on each side being a Hat meadow a- 
before. This total fringe, though in many respects very beautiful, the 
owner might justly think too uniform and absolute a screen. He 
therefore would observe what parts of it should be thinned or cut 
down, in order to let in the most interesting circumstances of the 
ground behind, whether trees, buildings, distant hills, or other objects : 
he might in some places smooth and slope the banks, though not in too 
gardener-like a style ; and, in others, allow the trees he had cut down 
to spring up again, as a present rich covering, which might afterwards 
be thinned and grouped at pleasure. In examining the banks on which 
this fringe was growing, he might perhaps find that some parts of it, 
from whatever cause, whether of soil having been thrown up, or from 
original formation, were higher than the rest ; and these risings, he 
might find, not only produced a pleasing variety when seen from the 
river, but likewise made a rich and varied termination in the view 
from the meadow towards the water. Would he, in such a case, have 
a thought of destroying the risings, of grubbing up the wood, and level- 
ling the ground, in order to preserve everywhere the level of the 
meadow ? — In searching amidst the thick underwood, he might find 
large roots of trees which projected over the water, supporting the 
mould above and behind them ; while the water had washed away that 
below, and formed a deep hollow beneath. By partially clearing away 
some of the boughs which concealed these roots, he might give to the 
recesses below them a still greater appearance of depth, and lead the 
eye towards • their dark shadows. Were there no other objection to 
Mr. Brown's pieces of made-water, than that they had no deep 
shadows, that would alone be a sufficient condemnation. But I will 
not trust myself to speak of their effects — it would lead me too far 
from the present subject. Were the improver, then, to find any large 
stones in the banks, or below them near the water edge — and such are 
not unfrequently to be found even in flat situations — he would hardly 
think of inquiring how they came there, and whether they belonged 
originally to the soil, but consider only how he could profit by them, 
or by any other circumstances which might produce effect and variety, 
without any manifest absurdity or unnaturalness. 

If, then, it be acknowledged that these varieties do constitute some of 
the principal charms of natural rivers ; if where they exist, are happily 
disposed, and mixed with verdure and smoothness, not only the river 
itself is beautiful, but the whole country from its influence seems to 
partake of that character ; and if, on the other hand, where there is a 
total want of them, there must be total monotony — what should prevent 



us from endeavouring to imitate that which is at the same time most 
natural and most delightful, instead of making something, which has no 
type in nature, and ought to have none in art ? Can it be said that 
there is any real difficulty in executing any part of what I have 
described, or indeed much more than I have mentioned ? I say in exe- 
cuting, for difficulty there certainly is in planning and directing what 
is to be a principal feature in a real landscape. 

[[However unfavourable such a flat place may be for the construction 
of an interesting piece of water, I conceive that much may be done to 
effect the object by planting alone. To attempt to lay down any uni- 
versally applicable rule or plan for such a creation, would manifestly be 
most absurd. But the same skill and judgment that could effect an 
interesting combination of wood and lawn in such a situation, might 
certainly succeed in producing interest where the additional ingredient 
of water was allowed. The effect would, of course, entirely depend 
upon the mode in which the various irregular sinuosities of the shores 
were formed and wooded — here, with trees to be allowed to grow tall 
and spreading, and there, with a thicker jungle of lower shrubs. I do 
not think that such a piece of water could possibly have a good effect if 
very extensive ; but, on a small scale, its reflections at least would be 
always pleasing and animating. — E.] 

I have now very fully explained my ideas with respect to the manner 
in which the banks of water may be prepared, so that time and accident 
may produce in them those varieties and breaks, which, when properly 
accompanied, are so much admired by painters. I have likewise shown 
how other circumstances, usually called picturesque, such as rocks, stones, 
trunks and roots of trees, &c. may be added to them, and how they may 
be blended with what is smooth and undulating. The last finishing, 
that which gives richness, variety, effect, and connection to the whole — 
that which adds a charm to all other varieties, and which alone, when 
judiciously managed, will in a great degree compensate their absence, 
is planting. The connection, and partial concealment arising from wood, 
which are necessary and interesting in every part of landscape, are 
peculiarly so in the banks of water ; but the degree of concealment 
which is required for the purpose of softening rudeness, or disguising 
monotony, cannot well be effected without a large proportion of trees 
of a lower growth. Although I have dwelt so much on this subject in 
a former part," I shall have occasion not only to apply what I have 

* Basay on the Picturesque. 


there said to the particular points I am now discussing, but also still 
further to enlarge upon it. 

In forming the banks of artificial water through a flat piece of ground, 
those who absolutely condemn Mr. Brown's regular curves and slopes, 
might still widely differ from each other as to the degree, and the sort 
of variety that could with propriety be introduced. One improver 
might like every kind of enrichment, even in such a situation ; another 
only some variation in the height of the banks ; a third, again, might 
think that any such variation of the ground itself would not accord with the 
flatness of the surrounding country ; and so long as artificial monotony 
and baldness are excluded, each of these styles may have its merits and 
its beauties ; but the improver who was least fond of variety, and who 
objected to any difference of height in the banks themselves, might still 
wish to break and conceal their uniformity by means of wood. Were 
he, however, to plant forest trees alone, and at the distance they ought 
to remain when full grown, they would for many years look poor and 
scattered ; and were he to plant a number of them together, they would, 
if left thick as they usually are, be drawn up to poles, and the same- 
ness of the ground beyond them would be seen between their stems. 
Should he cut many of them down, and let the underwood grow, still 
that method, though of great use, will not completely answer the pur- 
pose ; for the underwood of forest trees would in a few years grow tall 
and bare, would require to be again cut down, again to be guarded from 
animals ; but thorns and hollies continue thick and bushy, and, what is 
of great consequence, always subordinate to the higher growths ; so 
that with the most perfect closeness and concealment at bottom, there 
may be the greatest variety and freedom of outline at top. If a mixture 
of low bushy plants be of such use in disguising a level surface, it is no 
less requisite where any risings are artificially made in the bank ; for 
the crude manifest attempt at artificial variety, is much worse than 
natural unaffected sameness; and, lastly, where roots and stones are 
placed for picturesque effect, a disguise of low, bushy, and trailing 
plants, is still more necessary. 

But the advantage of this method of planting extends much further 
than the immediate banks ; and as the character of water (con- 
sidered as part of a composition) is very much affected by all the 
grounds which surround it, and with which it can be combined into the 
same landscape, some additional remarks on the planting of such 
grounds may not be improper in this place ; and, indeed, as the prin- 
cipal change in all places is made by means of planting, the superiority 



vjf this method can hardly be placed in too many points of view. Should, 
then, the ground on each side of the water be either flat, or, what per- 
haps is scarcely less unvaried, uniformly sloping, still a great degree 
of variety and intricacy may be given to it, by means of the style of 
planting I have just mentioned. There are, for instance, many parts of 
forests quite flat, yet full of intricacy and variety — from what cause ? 
Certainly from the mixture of thorns, yews, hollies, hazels, &c, with the 
larger trees ; these form thickets, which often so variously cross behind 
each other, that the lawns among them are bounded, yet no one can 
ascertain the lines of the boundary ; the eye is limited, yet appears to 
be free and unconfined, and wanders into the openings of the thickets 
themselves, and those between them. Contrast all this with a lawn of 
Mr. Brown's ; the uncertain and perpetually varying boundary of the 
one, with the regular line of the plantation or belt that hems in the other ; 
contrast the thickets themselves, each a model of intricacy and variety, 
with the clump of large trees only, as perfect a model of baldness and 
monotony. By planting a mixture of the different growths, sometimes 
in largo extended plantations, to be separated afterwards into groups 
and thickets with various inlets and openings ; sometimes in smaller 
masses, arranging them so as to cross, and, as it were, to lap over each 
other, with passages of various breadths between them, the variety of 
forest lawns might be given to those near a house, yet the neatness of 
a dressed lawn be preserved ; and water so backed, would not need a 
continued fringe for the purpose of concealing what was behind. Such 
future groups and thickets, as they must be prepared by being dug and 
fenced, will at first look heavy and formal, but the circumstance of the 
different growths is a sure preservative against the incurable sameness 
and insulated appearance of clumps, as they are usually planted and left. 

The same reflection, which before occurred in describing the imme- 
diate banks, again occurs on a more extended scale, namely, that this 
method, which can give such diversity to an absolute flat, is, if possible, 
still more useful where there are slight inequalities in the midst of a 
large space of lawn. A few forest trees placed on such small swellings, 
look meagre and scattered — a number of them heavy and uniform — and 
neither of them mark or accord with the character of those lesser 
risings ; but the lower and more bushy plants both agree with the size 
of such swellings of ground, and humour and characterise their undula- 
tions, while a few of the larger trees, mixed with them, give variety 
and consequence to the general outline. These massive, yet diversified 
plantations, form divisions and compartments on which the eye can 
dwell with pleasure ; they vary, without stuffing up, the large uninter- 



esting spaces of which lawns and parks are too often composed, and 
from which arises that bare and meagre sameness, so opposite to the 
richness and diversity of many of the forest lawns. 

[Nothing can be more important to the landscape improver than an 
earnest attention to these few most sensible observations. I have often 
remarked in grounds some beautiful knoll spoiled in its effect by an 
uniform and dense plantation of forest trees all over it, where a little 
attention at the time of planting, might have left it with irregular 
groups of the taller timber in some places, intermingled with those of 
lower growths in others, so as to produce a waving and broken outline. 
Then we often find, that when a knoll has been so spoiled in the plant- 
ing, instead of the improver attempting to amend it by taking out irre- 
gular portions of the taller growths, and introducing thorns, hollies, 
and other lower growths instead of them, we see the whole grove thinned 
out regularly in every part, and the stems of the trees bared in such a 
manner, that the light flickers continually through among them as one 
moves along, so as to produce absolute pain to the organs of vision. — E.] 

It may, perhaps, be said, that thickets, though very proper in forests, 
and, perhaps, in parks, are not in character with a lawn, or with such 
dressed ground as artificial water is generally made in. This opinion 
I wish to examine, for the notion that a lawn, or any meadow or pas- 
ture-ground near the house, ought to be kept quite open and clear from 
any kind of thickets, has been one very principal cause of the bareness 
I have so often had occasion to censure. It is probable that the first 
idea of a lawn may have arisen from the openings of various sizes 
which are found in forests and old parks, and that these openings were 
the original objects of imitation, in copying which, improvers have had 
the same degree of success as in their imitations of natural rivers, and 
from the same cause — that of never studying their models. If it be true 
that many of these forest lawns have every variety that can be wished for, 
whether in the disposition of their boundaries, in their groups, or their 
single trees ; that the yews, thorns, hollies, &c, produce richness and 
concealment, and often, as far as they are concerned, a very dressed 
appearance ; if the larger trees add loftiness and grandeur, while the 
frequent change from thickets to trees and bushes, either single or in 
open groups, no less produces variety — what is the objection to making 
such scenes the principal objects of study and imitation, where similar 
effects are meant to be created, and where they certainly would be 
admired ? Should it happen, for example, that in parts of the rising 
ground of a lawn intended to be highly dressed, groups of thorns and 
hollies were mixed with the oaks and beeches, is there any one with 



the least taste for natural beauties who would totally extirpate them, 
and clear round all the larger trees ? — is there any one who would not 
delight in such a mixture — who would not show it as one of the most 
pleasing objects in that part of his place ? If so, why not strive to create 
what we should be proud of if placed by accident ? With regard to 
thickets not being suited to dressed scenery, what, let me ask, are those 
clumps of shrubs and trees of different growths, which at Blenheim 
and other places, are in the most polished parts of the garden ? They 
are thickets in point of concealment and of variety in the outline of 
the summit, and so far they differ from those clumps which are planted 
with the larger trees only ; their difference from the forest thicket is, 
that they are chiefly composed of exotics, and that, from the original 
line of the digging being preserved, and from their never having been 
thinned by means of cutting, or of the bite of animals, they remain in 
one uniform round or oval. Were such clumps thinned, and inlets 
made by a judicious improver, and were the line of digging effaced, 
they would soon have the variety of forest thickets ; and, on the other 
hand, were a forest thicket dug round, planted up, and preserved, it 
would soon have the heaviness and formality of a garden clump. The 
forest thicket has, therefore, a great advantage in point of variety and 
playfulness of outline — and perhaps the mixture of oak and beech, with 
yew, thorn, and holly, were there no other varieties, is not inferior in 
real beauty to any mixture of exotics. What, then, ought to be the 
difference between the forest thicket, and that which might be intro- 
duced in a lawn ? Exactly the difference which characterises the two 
scenes. The one is wild, rough, and neglected ; the other smooth and 
cultivated. In the lawn, therefore, brambles and briers that crawl on 
the surface, and whatever gives a rude and neglected look, should be 
extirpated, and the grass encouraged ; and by such means, while the 
rude entangled look of a brake is destroyed, richness, variety, and con- 
cealment, may be created or preserved. But even if it were a settled 
point that nothing but timber trees ought to have place in a lawn, 
still the best method of raising them so as to produce present effect 
without future injury, would be to mix a large proportion of the lower 
growths, till the timber trees were grown to a sufficient size ; and then, 
if he who should then view their effect altogether could give such an 
order, every thing round them might be cleared. 

In recommending extirpation I have confined my remark to those 
plants which crawl on the surface ; as it is from that circumstance that 
they have a rude and neglected appearance, however they may suit the 
painter as a foreground ; but where any flexible plants have climbed 
up trees, they are highly ornamental ; nor can any thing be richer or 



gayer, than wild roses, or clusters of berries intermixed with foliage, 
and hanging from it in festoons. Then as the grass may be kept neat 
about their stems, they do not give the idea of slovenly neglect. 

In speaking of artificial hillocks, I have confined myself to those 
which might be made on the immediate banks of water. It would 
certainly be much more hazardous to try such an experiment on a more 
extended surface ; still, I think, that where a great deal is to be dug out 
in order to make the water — where there is more earth than is wanting 
for the head, and where the ground is unvaried — such artificial risings 
might be made with good effect, and without appearing unnatural. I 
judge, in some degree, from what I have seen accidentally produced : 
it sometimes happens in stony arable grounds, that the stones, with 
clods of earth, weeds, and rubbish, have been heaped up at different 
times, and have formed irregular hillocks, which being unfit for cultiva- 
tion, remain untouched ) and trees, bushes, fern, and gorse, spring up 
in many parts of them. These hillocks are artificial ; but not being 
intended for beauty, they are neither artificially formed, nor planted ; 
and consequently have the perfect appearance of being natural. I have 
often been struck with the great richness of such banks at a considerable 
distance, and from a number of points; and have been surprised on 
examining them, to find how slight a rise of ground, when planted by 
the hand of nature, seemed to elevate and give consequence to that part. 
I have been quite deceived in regard to their depth — have gone round 
them, and though undeceived as to the reality, still observed with 
pleasure the same appearance. Such is the effect of these artless plan- 
tations, the fruits of accident, but which it would be the perfection of 
design to imitate. Art generally opposes either an uniformly thick, 
and therefore a suspected screen, or one, (which to use Milton's lan- 
guage,) is thin with excessive thickness — 

" Dark with excessive bright." 
and through which the ground behind is unpleasantly discovered ; but 
in these works of accident, the many partial openings and inlets seem 
to invite the eye, while something still prevents it from penetrating too 
far into their recesses. Many different hillocks have been raised by 
art, in various ways and for various purposes ; — some of them without 
any connection with the surrounding land ; yet still, when enriched and 
disguised by wild, irregular vegetation, they have, in almost every in- 
stance, something in their appearance, which few would wish to part 
with. There are often, likewise, broad and high ridges, formed by old 
meers and hedgerows, that interrupt the natural flow of the ground, but 
which under similar circumstances have an equally good effect ; and I 
have particularly observed meadows near rivers, uniformly surrounded 


with banks of that kind, which yet formed the most striking and pleas- 
ing features in the whole landscape. 

The word hillock, is, I believe, in general confined to natural swell- 
ings of ground. I have, however, the authority of Mr. Mason for using 
it in this sense, even without the addition of the word artificial. In the 
second book of the English Garden, where he is giving instructions how 
a flat scene may be improved, he observes that the genius of such a 
scene may be " lifted from his dreary couch " by 

" Pillowing his head with swelling hillocks green." 
My instructions have the same tendency, though delivered in humbler 

All these circumstances might certainly be imitated and improved 
upon without difficulty ; and it is no less certain that the simplest exe- 
cution of any of the banks which I have described, would be a very 
essential improvement to the sides of many pieces of made water. I 
am very far, however, from recommending frequent and wanton attempts 
to change the surface of ground, as I hold them to be very dangerous 
on many accounts ; for besides the danger of their having an unnatural 
character if not judiciously managed, heaps of earth might sometimes 
affect the drainage of the land — a point of equal consequence both to 
beauty and profit. But I wished to show by what means the different 
varieties in ground, whether natural or artificial, abrupt or gradual, 
connected or disjoined, may at once be disguised and set off to the 
greatest advantage. I wished also to suggest, that when a quantity of 
mould must somehow be disposed of, it had better be employed in 
creating and increasing variety, than (according to the usual practice) 
in destroying that which does exist, by .filling up all inequalities with- 
out distinction, and reducing the whole to the strictest and stiffest 

The folly of attempting to create variety and picturesque effect, by 
means of single objects without connection or congruity, is very 
pointedly ridiculed by the Abbe de Lisle in his poem on Gardens. 
The two lines, like most of his verses, are easily retained, and will be 
recollected with equal pleasure and profit — 

" Et dans un sol e'gal, un humble monticule 
Veut etre pittoresque, et ne'st que ridicule." 

All that I have said, will serve to strengthen, not to counteract the 
force of that just satire, and the principle on which it is founded ; for 
I have shown the method by which connection may be restored, and 
incongruity veiled and disguised, even where such hillocks had been 
formed, and by which they may in a great degree be united with the 
rest of the landscape. 


It may naturally DC expected, thai having entered into no much de- 

(nil wiili rei peel to the banks of artificial lakei and rivers, I should say 
something of their general shapes. I have already observed, that the 
character of a lake, and not that of a river, should, in most cases, bo 
the object of imitation ; and, in this opinion, I am more and more con- 
firmed. A lake admits of bays and inlets in every direction ; and, 
where the scene is confined, every source of variety should be sought 
after. A lake is a w hole, and that whole, upon a smaller scale, may 
be completely imitated ; but the imitation of a river is confined to one 
or two reaches, and then it must stop. Now one of the charms of a 
river, besides the real beauty of each particular scene, is the idea of 

oont .Hire, of progression; but that idea can hardly be excited by 

the imitation of one or two reaches w here its motion is least discernible 

the «>nly parts which art can properly imitate. In lakes, a great 

deal of the beauty arises from the number of bays, inlets, and promon- 
tories ; but they would counteract the idea of continuance and progres- 
sion, the hope and expectation of which give an interest to a river, oon- 
idered generally, though many parts taken singly may be uninterest- 
ing. These manifest differences between the two characters, and, above 
all, the great difference between a complete and an incomplete imitation, 
leave, I think, no doubt w hich deserves the preference. 

( I have already shown, that I go so Par as to hold, that all attempts 
io produce a river must be abortive, disappointing, and bad. Where a 
considerable stream does exist already, very great judgment and good 

manage nt may perhaps give it enlargement and greater consequence 

in its passage through the grounds. But even this I conceive must 
be at all times s dangerous experiment, and one w hich w ill be rarely 
successful. If it is to be tried, it will, I think, always have the best 
chance of turning out well, by the landscape gardener imitating some 

of tllOHO small kikes, or chains of lakes, into which gently-flowing 

streams are frequently apt to expand, [n this, as in everything else, 
Nature, and Nature alone, must be the model. — E/] 

The lakes w hich are most admired by painters, are remarkable for 
the variety and intrioacy of their shores, and are what an improver} 

w here he had the opportunity, would, of course, he mos! desirous of 

studying) excellent hinis, however, with regard to the general forms 

of lakes, might be taken Prom pools OH a scale so very diminutive, a,s 
to excite the ridicule of those w ho attend to size only, and mil to dia- 
meter. Hut as ( iainshorou^h used to hrin^ home roots, stones, and 
mosses, from w hich he formed, and then studied foregrounds in minia- 
ture; and as Leonardo da V iuci advised painters to enrich and vary 
their conceptions by attending t" stains and breaks in old walls, thai 


is, to the lucky effects and combinations which, in the meanest objects, 
are produced by accident and neglect — I may venture to recommend 
many of the pools in old gravel pits on heathy commons, as affording 
most useful studies in this branch of landscape gardening. Such lakes 
in miniature strongly point out the effect of accident and neglect in 
creating varied and picturesque compositions, with the advantages that 
might be taken of such accidents ; and they likewise sIioav — what is 
by no means the least instructive part — the process by which such forms 
and compositions are undesignedly produced. The manner in which 
these pits are formed, seems to be nearly this : After a certain quantity 
of gravel has been dug out, and it becomes less plentiful, the workmen 
very naturally pursue it wherever it appears ; the mere mould being 
left, or cast aside, just as it may suit their convenience ; and as they 
want the gravel and not the surface, they pick it from under the turf, 
which, by that process, is undermined, and falls downwards in different 
degrees, and in various breaks. Sometimes the turf and the upper 
mould are taken off in order to get at the gravel which lies beneath, 
and are cast upon the surface of another pari, the height of which is 
consequently raised above the general level ; while in places where 
roads had been made to carry out the gravel, the ground is proportion- 
ably low, and the descent gradual. By means of these operations, in 
which no idea of beauty or picturesque composition was ever thought 
of, all the varieties of smooth turf, of broken ground, of coves, inlets, 
projections, islands, are often formed; while the heath, broom, furze, 
and low bushes, which vary the summit, are in proportion to the scale 
of the whole — and that whole is a lake in miniature of transparent 

water, surrounded by the most varied banks. I have often thought, 
that if such a gravel pit with clear water were near a house, the bank?, 
of it might, with great propriety and effeet. be dressed with kalrneas, 



rhododendrons, azaleas, andromedas, &c. without any shrub too large for 
its scale ; and that so beautiful a lake in miniature might be made, with 
every thing in such exact proportion, as to present no bad image of 
what one might suppose to be a full-sized lake in Liliput. 

But there are likewise other pools on a scale equally diminutive, 
the character of which forms a singular contrast to such as I have just 
mentioned ; for as in those one part of the beauty arises from the pro- 
portion between the size of the water and that of its accompaniments, so 
in the others, a striking effect is produced by their disproportion. These 
last are found in forests and in woody commons, where the ground is 
bold and unequal. In such places, it often happens that a high broken 
bank, enriched with wild vegetation, sometimes with a single tree upon 
it — sometimes with a group of them — hangs over a small pool : in a 
scene of that kind, the very circumstance of the smallness of the water 
gives a consequence to the objects immediately around it, which a larger 
expanse would diminish. Another great source of effect arises from the 
large mass of shadow, which, from the overhanging bank and trees, is 
reflected in so small a mirror ; and also from the tints of vegetation, of 
broken soil, and of the sky, which are, revived in it. All these circum- 
stances give a surprising richness and harmony to every thing within 
the field of vision ; the water being, as it were, the focus in which that 
richness and harmony are concentred, and whence they again seem to 
expand themselves on all that surrounds it. In many gentlemen's 
places there are opportunities of producing such effects of water with 
little expense or difficulty, in no part of which a good imitation of a 
lake or river on a large scale, could be made at any expense. There 
are hollows, for instance, in sequestered spots, partly surrounded by 
such banks as I have described, which might easily be made to contain 
wa ter ; — there is often a small stream near such a spot, running without 
any particular beauty in its own bed, but which, by an easy change in 
its course, might be made to fall into the hollow ; and thus appear to 
be, and really become, the source of the still water beneath. These 
easy and cheap improvements would give a new and lively interest to 
woodland scenery, and would afford opportunities of trying a variety 
of picturesque embellishments. This style of scenery is very poetically 
and characteristically described by Mr. Mason in the first book of his 
English Garden : 

" Nature here 
Has with her living colours form'd a scene 
Which Ruysdale best might rival — crystal lake?. 
O'er which the giant oak, himself a prove, 
Flings his romantic branches, and beholds 
His reverend image in the expanse below/* 



Some of the most eminent painters, not only of the Dutch and 
Flemish, but likewise of the Italian school, were particularly fond of 
scenes of this kind ; and our own Gainsborough, of whom we have so 
much reason to be proud, no less delighted in painting them. The 
esteem of such artists is very much in favour of the scenes themselves ; 
but the principle, on which they give so much pleasure to those who 
have learnt to observe effects in nature by means of those which are 
expressed in painting, has been often displayed in landscapes of the 
highest style, and where the scenery is far from rude ; and I am glad 
to cite such great and various authorities, for paying more attention to 
the effect and the accompaniments, than to the extent of water, as the 
opposite idea has so generally and exclusively prevailed. 

A very striking example of the effect of this principle is displayed in 
a picture of the greatest of all landscape painters — Titian. It was in 
the Orleans collection, and represents the bath of Diana, with the story 
of Acteon. The figures, which are either in or close to the bath, bear 
the same kind of proportion to it, as a tree of Ruysdale or Gainsborough 
does to the small pool over which it hangs, and produce many similar 
effects by the disproportion of their size to that of the water, by their 
nearness to it, and by the consequent fulness of their shadows, and bril- 
liancy of their reflections. The richness, glow, and harmony which 
arise from these circumstances, and which, from the revival of the colours 
interspersed in various parts of the picture, seem to diffuse themselves 
from the water over the whole of it, are so enchanting, as to justify the 
highest encomiums of his countrymen. There is, however, in a Venetian 
book, a compliment to one of his figures, which the most sanguine ad- 
mirer of the art of painting cannot quite assent to : after praising many 
parts of a famous work of Titian at Venice, the Venetian author says, 
•• at the bottom of the steps is an old woman with eggs — assai plu 
naturale eke se fosse viva — much more natural than if she was alive." 

Such is the passion for extent, that in order to gain a trifling addition 
to the surface, the water is often raised to the highest level without any 
attention to the trees it may injure, or to the varieties in the ground 
which it may cover: so that, instead of lying under banks well varied 
and enriched, it is frequently carried up to the uniform surface of the 
grass above them. Wherever water is everywhere on a level with the 
general surface of mere grass, there can, of course, be no diversity in 
its immediate banks, as is the case with rivers that slowly flow through 
a continued plain — the only kind that professed improvers seem to have 
looked at. "Where rivers descend from a hilly country into a flat, the 
floods, even there, deepen their channels, and thereby give rise to many 


varieties, which never can exist where the stream is nearly on a level 
with the grass. 

The varieties which the impetuous motion of water occasions, and 
the means by which it produces them, are very distinctly marked in a 
Poem of Macchiavelli, called Capitolo della Fortuna — 

" Come un torrente rapido, ch'al tutto 
Snperbo e fatto, ogm cosa fracassa 
Dovunquc aggiugne il suo corso per tutto ; 
E questa parte aceresce, e quella abbassa, 
Varia le ripe, varia il letto, il fondo, 
E fa tremar la terra d' onde passa." 

This suggests to me a remark not unworthy the consideration of im- 
provers — when the water is raised to the level of the general surface, 
you can only vary the banks by raising that surface ; but when the 
water is less high, you can vary the banks by lowering, as well as by 
raising them. 

Islands in artificial water have, in many instances, been so shaped, 
and so placed, as to throw a ridicule on the use of them ; but if we 
once allowed ourselves to argue from abuse, they would not be the only 
imitations of natural objects that ought to be condemned. That islands 
are often beautiful in natural scenery, and in a high degree productive 
of variety and intricacy, cannot be doubted ; and if it be true, that those 
parts of seas and large lakes where there are most islands (such as the 
entrance of Lake Superior, or the Archipelago) are most admired for 
their beauty; — and if the manner in which those islands produce that 
beauty be by dividing, concealing, and diversifying what is too open 
and uniform — the same cause must produce the same effect in all water, 
however the scale may be diminished ; the same in a pool or a gravel 
pit as in an ocean. 

As the islands in Lake Superior are not as yet so celebrated as those 
in the Archipelago, I will quote a passage concerning them from Morse's 
American Geography, which, at the same time that it presents a beauti- 
ful picture, shows likewise how generally those circumstances on which 
I have dwelt, are admired. " The entrance into this lake from the 
Straits of St. Mary, affords one of the most pleasing prospects in the 
world. On the left may be seen many beautiful little islands, that ex- 
tend a considerable way before you ; and on the right, an agreeable 
succession of small points of land that project a little way into the water, 
and contribute, with the islands, to render this delightful basin calm, and 
secure from those tempestuous winds, by which the adjoining lake is fre- 
quently troubled." — (Morse's American Geography, p. 12?.) 


Islands, though very common in many rivers, yet seem (if I may be 
allowed to say so) more perfectly suited to the character of lakes ; and, 
as far as there is any truth in this idea, it is in favour of making the latter 
our chief models for imitation. In artificial water, the most difficult 
parts are the two extremities, and particularly that where the dam is 
placed ; which, from being a mere ridge between two levels, is less 
capable of being varied to any degree by bays and projections, or by 
difference of height. The head, therefore, must in general be the most 
formal and uninteresting part, and that to which a break, or a dis- 
guise of some kind, is most necessary ; but as it is likewise the place 
where the water is commonly the deepest, neither a projection from 
the land, nor an island, can easily be made thereabouts. There are 
generally, however, some shallow parts at a sufficient distance from one 
of the sides, and not at too great a distance from the head, where one 
or more islands might easily be formed, so as to conceal no inconsiderable 
portion of the line of the head from many points. In such places, and 
for such purposes, islands are peculiarly proper. A large projection from 
the side of the real bank, might too much break the general line ; but 
by this method, that line would be preserved, and the proposed effect 
be equally produced. 

It is not necessary that islands should strictly correspond with the 
shores either in height or shape ; for there are frequent instances in 
nature, where islands rise high and abruptly from the water, though the 
shore be low and sloping ; and this liberty of giving height to islands 
may be made use of with particular propriety and effect towards the 
head ; which usually presents a flat, thin line, but little disguised or 
varied by the usual style of planting. An island, therefore, (or islands, 
as the case may require) in such a situation as I have proposed, with 
banks higher than those of the head, abrupt in parts, with trees project - 
ing sideways over the water, by boldly advancing itself to the eye, by 
throwing back the line of the head and showing only part of it, would 
form an apparent termination of a perfectly new character ; and so dis- 
guise the real one, that no one could tell, when viewing it from the 
many points whence such island would have its effect, which was the 
head, or where the water was likely to end. 

In forming and planting these islands, I should proceed much in the 
same manner as in forming the outline of the other banks. I should 
stake out the general shape, not keeping to any regular figure, and then 
direct the labourers to heap up the earth as high as I meant it should 
be, without levelling, or shaping it ; making allowance for its sinking, 



and reserving always the best mould for the top. In the course of 
heaping up the earth without sloping it, a great deal would fall beyond 
the stakes, and would unavoidably give something of that irregularity 
and play of outline, which we observe in natural islands ; the new 
earth would likewise settle, and fall down in different degrees, and in 
various places — from all which accidents, indications how to give greater 
variety might be taken. If it be allowed that a mixture of the lower 
growths is as generally useful as I have supposed, it must be particularly 
so in islands, where partial concealment is so principal an object ; and 
as you can never give such a natural appearance of underwood, and of 
intricacy, can never so humour the ground, so mark its varieties, especi- 
ally on a small scale, by planting as by sowing — it is most advisable to 
plant only what is more immediately necessary, and to sow seeds and 
berries of the lower growths, quite from the lowest growths of all ; and 
to encourage fern, and whatever may give richness, and naturalness. 
In any part where I wished the boughs to project considerably over the 
water, I should raise the bank higher than the rest of the ground, and 
many times give it the appearance of abruptness ; yet by means of 
stones and roots, endeavour both to render it picturesque in its actual 
state, and to prevent any change from its being broken down. On this 
high point, I should plant one, or more of such trees as had already an 
inclination to lean forward, from having been forced in that direction 
by trees behind them ; and some of that kind are generally to be met 
with, even in nurseries and plantations. By this method, the bank, 
and the trees "of that part of the island, would have a bold effect ; and 
in j>laces where the water began to deepen so much, that it would be 
difficult to extend the island itself any farther, its apparent breadth, and 
consequently the concealment occasioned by it, would in no slight degree 
be extended. 

The best trees for such a situation, are those which are disposed to 
extend their lateral shoots, and are not subject to lose them by decay, 
and which likewise will bear the drip of other trees ; such, for in- 
stance, as the beech, hornbeam, witch elm, &c, or should the insular 
situation, notwithstanding the height of the bank, be found too moist 
for such trees, the improver will naturally choose from the various 
aquatics, what will best suit his purpose. Among them, the alder, 
however common, holds a distinguished place, on account of the depth 
and freshness of its green, and its resemblance, when old, to the noblest 
of forest trees — the oak. The resemblance, when both are in full leaf, 
is so strong, that I have seen many persons, who are very conversant 



with the foliage and general appearance of trees, totally unable to dis- 
tinguish them from each other ; and from having some old alders inter- 
mixed with oaks, I have had frequent opportunities of making the ex- 
periment. This circumstance, added to their intrinsic merit, renders 
them extremely useful, should the improver wish to produce or continue 
the character of an oak plantation, where the ground is so moist that 
oaks will not flourish. In a very different style, the plane is a tree 
of the most generally acknowledged beauty ; and it may be observed, 
that the boughs both of that and of the witch elm, form themselves into 
canopies with deep and distinct coves beneath them, in a greater degree 
than those of almost any other deciduous trees — a form of bough 
peculiarly beautiful when hanging over water. As the aim of the 
planter would be to make the whole of these trees push forward in a 
lateral direction, it might often be right to plant some other trees 
behind them of a more aspiring kind, such as the poplar; and by means 
of such a mixture, together with some of the lower growths, very 
beautiful groups may be formed, without any appearance of affected 

[[In producing the effects here pointed at, it will often be found highly 
useful to insert sapling trees here and there, with naturally sweeping 
stems, and instead of planting them accurately upright, to give them 
such an inclination as may make them the sooner tend towards the 
realization of the desired object. Some of the finest effects produced by 
landscape painters in the graceful combinations of stems, may be 
imitated by a little attention on the part of landscape gardeners, to the 
mere manner in which the young trees are inserted into the ground. 
Nowhere would such an attention be more necessary than in forming 
such an island as is here proposed. — E.] 

It may not be useless to remark on this occasion, that all trees, of 
which the foliage is of a marked character, and the colour either light 
and brilliant, or in the opposite extreme, should be used with caution, 
as they will produce light or dark spots, unless properly blended with 
other shades of green, and balanced by them. The fir tribe in general 
has not a natural look upon islands on a small scale ; but should a 
mixture of them happen to prevail on the other banks of the water, the 
cedar of Libanus would remarkably suit the situation I have just men- 
tioned; and that, and the pine-aster, in place of the poplar, rising 
behind it from amidst laurels, arbutus, &c, would form, altogether, a 
combination of the richest kind. 

All the plants which I have hitherto mentioned, are such as take 


root on dry land, or at least above the surface of the water ; hut 
there arc others which grow either in the water itself, or in ground 
extremely saturated with moisture, and therefore must, of course, be 
suited to the character of islands. These are the various sorts of flags, the 
the bulrush, the water-dock, [the typha. — E.] &c, to which maybe added 
those plants which float upon the surface of the water, such as the 
water-lily. From the peculiarity of their situation and of their forms, 
and from the richness of their masses, they very much contribute to the 
effect of water, and great use may be made of them by a judicious im- 
prover ; particularly where the shore is low. I have observed a very 
happy effect from them in such low situations towards the extremity of 
a pool — that of preventing any guess or suspicion where the water was 
to end, although the end was very near. This is an effect which can 
only be produced by islands, or by such plants as root in the water ; 
for where trees or bushes grow on low ground, however completely they 
may conceal that ground by hanging over the water, yet we know that 
the land must be there, and that the water must end ; but flags or bul- 
rushes, being disposed in tufts and groups behind each other, do not 
destroy the idea of its continuation. 

A large uniform extent of water, which presents itself to the eye 
without any intricacy in its accompaniments, requires to be broken and 
diversified like a similar extent of lawn, though by no means in the 



same degree ; for the delight which we receive from the element itself, 
compensates a great deal of monotony. Islands, when varied in their 
shape and accompaniments, have the same effect as forest thickets; 
circular islands, that of clumps ; and the same system which gave rise 
to round distinct clumps, of course produced islands equally round and 
unconnected. As the prevailing idea has been to show a great uninter- 
rupted extent, whether of grass or of water, islands on that account 
have been but little in fashion. I have seldom, indeed, seen more than 
one in any piece of artificial water, and that, apparently, made rather 
for the sake of water-fowl than for ornament. When one of these cir- 
cular islands is too near the shore, the canal which separates them is 
mean, and the island from most points appears like a projection from the 
shore itself ; and when, on the other hand, it is nearly in the centre, (a 
position of which I have seen some very ridiculous instances,) it has 
much the same unnatural, unmeaning look, as the eye which painters 
have placed in the middle of the Cyclops' forehead ; and that is one of 
the few points on which the judgment of painters seems to me to be 
nearly on a level with that of gardeners ; they have an excuse, how- 
ever, which I believe the latter could never allege — that of having been 
misled by the poets. 

As the greatest part of the supposed improvements in modern garden- 
ing, particularly with respect to water, is founded on the principle of 
flowing lines and easy curves, I will examine in what points that prin- 
ciple ought to be modified, and in what cases, for want of such modifi- 
cations, it may counteract its own purposes. Hogarth, as I have ob- 
served in a former part, has shown the reason why they are beautiful, 
namely, "that they lead the eye a kind of wanton chase;" and Mr. 
Burke, with his usual happiness, has farther illustrated the same idea.* 
It seems to me that, according to the spirit of both these writers, beauty, 
as a distinct character, may be said more generally to arise from soft 
insensible transitions than from any other cause ; and that this circum- 
stance of insensible transition, (which cannot be expressed by any one 
word) is the most comprehensive principle of visible beauty in its 
strictest acceptation — as not being confined to lines or curves of any 
kind, and as extending, not only to form, but to colour, to light and 
shadow, and to every combination of them, that is, to all visible nature. 
Smoothness and flowing lines do most commonly produce insensible 
transitions, and it is chiefly on that account that they are principles of 

* Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, p. 21G, ct passim, 


beauty ; but if partial and comparative roughness and abruptness, as is 
frequently the case in the wooded banks of rivers, should more effectu- 
ally promote that end, whoever destroys them and makes the whole 
smooth and flowing, will destroy the component parts of beauty. For 
instance, a bank of mowed, or of closely bitten grass, is clearly much 
smoother than one on which there are oaks, thorns, and hollies. Such 
trees and bushes, also, break and interrupt the continued flow of those 
sweeps, which most nearly approach to what has been called the line 
of beauty — and certainly any abruptnesses in the ground, however 
slight, are contrary to the idea of beauty in its confined sense ; yet a 
river, even with broken ground and with rocks, when they are softened, 
not concealed by wood, so that the whole is blended together, will not 
only be more varied, more suited to the painter and to the genuine 
lover of nature, but will be more strictly beautiful than the finest turf 
and the most artfully formed curves, without similar accompaniments 
of trees and bushes ; for such curves, from their distinctness and their 
nakedness, present nothing but hard, formal lines. All this to me is a 
proof that insensible transitions, and not any particular lines or curves, 
are the means by which beauty in landscape is chiefly effected ; for I 
will venture to assert, that whenever in natural scenery a line of beauty 
is made by rule, it will most assuredly be unworthy of its name. Still, 
however, the alliance between flowing lines and insensible transitions 
may be shown from these very curves of artificial water ; for if, in 
addition to the defects of uninterrupted smoothness and bareness, the 
outline of the bank were to be cut into angles, the sharpness of such an 
outline would be increased in proportion. 

In places where the grounds have been dressed on Mr. Brown's sys- 
tem, particularly in those where water has been introduced, the most 
inveterate defect seems to me to be this — that the want of variety and 
intricacy as well as of connection, which is apparent at the first glance, 
and which takes off from the pleasure arising from neatness and ver- 
dure, is more disgustingly apparent at every step. On the other hand, 
one of the greatest charms of a beautiful piece of natural scenery is, 
that while the general effect and character are strictly beautiful, the 
detail is full of variety and intricacy — and that is the case, in a greater 
or less degree, in all beautiful scenes in nature, even in those of a simple 
kind. This most essential difference may easily be accounted for. 
Nature — for we are in the habit of considering her as a real and re- 
flecting agent — forms a beautiful scene, by combining objects, whatever 
they may be, in such a manner, as that no sudden or abrupt transition, 



either in form or colour, should strike the eye. This I take to be a just 
definition of beauty in landscape, whether real or painted, especially if 
we suppose a similar character of light and shadow. Now, Mr. Brown 
has attempted to produce beauty in scenery on a totally opposite plan — 
that of attending to particulars, and neglecting general composition, 
effect, and character. In the works of nature, many of the particulars 
are often rough and abrupt ; yet each scene, as a whole, impresses an 
idea of the most pleasing variety, softness, and union. In Mr. Brown's 
works, the particulars are smooth and flowing — the effect and character 
of the whole hard, unvaried, and unconnected. Variety and intricacy 
are, in truth, essential qualities of beauty, though not of a sudden and 
abrupt kind. I have endeavoured, in a former part, to explain the 
difference between beautiful and picturesque intricacy. But whoever, 
like Mr. Brown, deprives beauty of these qualities, leaves a mere cajnit 
mortuum — and he who, also like him, destroys, or neglects connection, 
leaves out the most essential requisite in every style of scenery. It 
may likewise be observed, that the circumstances which produce variety 
and intricacy — such, for instance, as the different accompaniments of 
natural rivers — serve likewise to produce connection ; and with con- 
nection that union and harmony, without which, beauty in landscape 
cannot exist.* 

But, it may be said, if this mixture of comparative roughness and 
abruptness may, in some cases — as in the instance just given of a 
wooded river — conduce more to the beautiful than smoothness and 
flowing lines alone, what would then be the distinction between such a 
river and a picturesque one ? I must begin by repeating what I have 
before observed, that the two characters are rarely unmixed in nature, 
and should not be unmixed in art. In the wooded river, I have sup- 
posed roughness and abruptness to be so blended with the ingredients 
of beauty, and rudeness to be "so disguised, as to produce altogether 
those insensible ■ transitions, in which, according to my ideas, consists 
the justest and most comprehensive principle of the beautiful in land- 
scape. The whole, then, assumes the soft and mild character of beauty. 
But should any of these rough, abrupt parts be more strongly marked ; 
should the rocks and the broken ground distinctly appear, and their 
lines be such as a painter would express by firm, decided, forcible 
touches of his pencil, then the picturesque would begin to prevail — and 
in proportion as that distinct and marked roughness and abruptness in- 
creased, so far the character of the beautiful would decrease. If, again, 
this distinctness and rudeness were carried beyond a certain point, the 

£96 kSIR uvedale price on artificial water. 

scene would probably become neither beautiful nor picturesque, but 
merely scattered, naked, deformed, or desolate. These instances may 
show, that it would be no less absurd to make picturesque scenes with- 
out any mixture of the beautiful — and the caution at some future period 
may not be unnecessary — than to attempt what has so long and so idly 
been attempted — to make beautiful scenes without any mixture of the 


I have contracted a sort of engagement with the public, to give my 
ideas on the subject mentioned in the title — on the Decorations near 
the House, in what may properly be called the Garden. I must own 
it is an engagement I feel great difficulty in fulfilling. The works of 
painters furnish various examples of landscapes in every style ; of models 
which have been sanctioned by constant and general approbation : to 
these, therefore, the landscapes of a place, with some allowances, may 
be referred. But of the embellishments of gardens, the examples given 
in pictures are comparatively few ; and also the influence of fashion, 
which has little or no effect on the character of landscapes, with respect 
to them is very powerful. 

There is another circumstance which renders the task more difficult : 
namely, that from this influence of fashion, and the particular influence 
of Mr. Brown, models of old gardens are in this country still scarcer in 
reality than in painting ; and, therefore, what good parts there may be 
in such gardens, whether proceeding from original design, or from the 
changes produced by time and accident, can no longer be observed: and 



yet from these specimens of ancient art, however they may be contemned 
as old-fashioned, many decorations might certainly be taken, and blend- 
ed with such modern improvements as really deserve the name. 

What appears to me the great defect of modern gardening in the 
confined sense, is exactly what has given them their greatest reputa- 
tion — an affectation of simplicity, of mere nature — a desire of banishing 
all embellishments of art, where art ought to be employed, and even in 
some degree displayed. On this account I have always been sorry that 
Mr. Mason should have begun his Poem on English Gardening, by an 
address to Simplicity ; not that simplicity is not fully deserving of all 
our homage, but that it is more than useless to enforce the practice of 
any one virtue, even where its excess is least dangerous, when the gene- 
ral tendency is towards that excess. Mr. Mason has also given her a 
jurisdiction, to which in my opinion, she is by no means entitled ; he 
has made her " arbitress of all that's good and fair." Simplicity, as a 
character, may, I think, be opposed to what is enriched and ornamen- 
ted. There is, indeed, no one word appropriated to that opposite charac- 
ter ; but in painting (and perhaps in other arts) it might, without 
impropriety, be termed Richness. A striking example of their oppo- 
sition may be found in the works of Rubens, contrasted with those of 
Poussin after he had neglected colouring, and thought only of the an- 
tique. Let any one who is acquainted with the pictures of those two 
great artists, reflect how justly the terms of richness and simplicity will 
apply to the respective styles of their composition, colouring, and light 
and shadow ; to their manner of disposing and draping their figures, 
and of producing the general effect of the whole. Had simplicity been 
the arbitress, Poussin would have been the only model ; and what we 
most admire in the works of Rubens, and of many other masters, could 
not have existed. The Venetian school owes that richness of colouring 
in which it surpasses all others, to the breaking, or corruption of colours ; 
which Sir J. Reynolds opposes to the simplicity and severity of the 
unbroken colours of the Roman school ; and from that circumstance, 
and from the splendour of their decorations, he calls the Venetian the 
ornamental style. Those splendid decorations the Roman school justly 
excluded from the higher style of painting ; but from what have we 
excluded them ? From ornamental gardens — from gardens, of which it 
is the peculiar and characteristic distinction, that they are ornamental, 
and nothing else ; and, therefore, in Italian, the name giardino is ap- 
propriated solely to them, and never (as garden in English, or jardin 
in French,) made to signify either kitchen or pleasure garden. I must 
say, therefore, with all the respect due to Mr. Mason, that to make 



simplicity the arbitress of ornament, is, in my idea, like making mercy 
the arbitress of justice, or frugality of generosity. It is a very proper 
and natural sentiment, that mercy should temper the stern qualities of 
justice, in the same manner that simplicity should correct and temper 
the profusion and glitter of ornament ; but the sages of the law would, 
I believe, think it an extraordinary position, were any author to assert 
that mercy is the arbitress of what is just and right. On the other 
hand, it is equally obvious that the firmness of justice should correct 
the mildness, however amiable, of mercy; and that, in the same manner, 
the splendour of ornament should give spirit and variety to the uniform, 
though grand and touching, character of simplicity. 

Where architecture, even of the simplest kind, is employed in the 
dwellings of man, art must be manifest ; and all artificial objects may 
certainly admit, and in many instances require, the accompaniments of 
art ; for to go at once from art to simple unadorned nature, is too 
sudden a transition, and wants that sort of gradation and congruity, 
which, except in particular cases, is so necessary in all that is to please 
the eye and the mind. Many years are elapsed since I was in Italy, 
but the impression which the gardens of some of the villas near Rome 
made upon me, is by no means effaced, though I could have wished to 
have renewed it before I entered upon this subject. I remember the 
rich and magnificent effects of balustrades, fountains, marble basons, 
and statues, blocks of ancient ruins, with remains of sculpture, the 
whole mixed with pines and cypresses. I remember also their effect, 
both as an accompaniment to the architecture, and as a foreground to 
the distance. 

These old gardens were laid out formally, that is, with symmetry 
and regularity ; for they were to accompany what was regular and 
symmetrical. They were full of decorations, for they were to accom- 
pany what was highly ornamented ; and their decorations, in order 
that they might accord with those of the mansion, partook of sculpture 
and architecture. Those who admire undisguised symmetry, when 
allied with the splendour and magnificence of art, will be most pleased 
with such gardens, when kept up according to their original design ; 
those, on the other hand, who may wish for an addition of more varied 
and picturesque circumstances, will find them in many of those old 
gardens whenever they have been neglected ; for the same causes which 
give a picturesque character to buildings, give it also to architectural 
gardens.* The first step towards it is the partial concealment of 

Essay on the Picturesque, Chap. III. 



symmetry by the breaks and interruptions that arise from an irregular 
mixture of vegetation — as of trees and shrubs, or of vines, ivy, and 
other creeping plants which climb up the vases, steps, and balustrades. 
At the Villa Negroni, I remember being particularly struck with many 
of these circumstances, which have since, to the extreme regret of all 
the artists, been destroyed. The more broken, weather-stained, and 
decayed the stone and brickwork, the more the plants and creepers 
seemed to have fastened and rooted in between their joints, the more 
picturesque these gardens become ; and in that respect they have to 
the painter's eye an immense advantage over modern gardens, from 
which all present decoration, and all future picturesqueness, are equally 
banished. But between the original design, and such an extreme 
change, there are many intermediate states, as there are likewise many 
intermediate degrees between the wild and singular irregularity of those 
plants which seem to start from the old walls, and the elegant forms of 
vegetation that no less frequently are produced by accident. All these 
different states and degrees, may furnish very instructive lessons in this 
particular part of improvement. 

I am aware of a very obvious misrepresentation of what I have just 
been stating, and by anticipating, may perhaps guard against it. It 
might very possibly be said, that according to my ideas, and in order 
to please the painter, a new garden ought to be made, not only in imita- 
tion of an old garden, but of an old one in ruin, and with every mark 
of decay. I will here repeat, what I have observed before on a similar 
occasion — that it is not by copying particulars, but by attending to 
principles, that lessons become instructive. In studying the effects of 
neglect and accident, either in wild scenes or in those which have been 
cultivated and embellished, the landscape painter thinks of his own 
art only, in which rudeness and negligence are often sources of delight ; 
but the landscape gardener, who unites the two arts, if not the two pro- 
fessions, must attend to them both : and while in all cases he keeps 
strongly in his mind the general principles of painting, he must not 
neglect either the principles or the practice of gardening. He will 
therefore in the execution, omit or modify many of those circumstances, 
that may be suited to the canvass only. 

I have always been of opinion, that the two professions ought to be 
joined together, and I lately heard an anecdote which confirmed me in 
that idea. I was told, that when Vanbrugh was consulted about the 
garden at Blenheim, he said, " you must send for a landscape painter;" 
a very natural answer to come from him, who, as Sir Joshua Reynolds 
observes, has of all architects most attended to painter-like effects. . As 



he did attend so much to those effects in his buildings, I cannot help 
regretting that he did not turn his thoughts towards the embellishments 
of the garden, as far as they might serve to accompany his architecture ; 
which, though above all others open to criticism, is above most others 
striking in its effects. A garden of Yanbrugh's, even in idea, will 
probably excite as much ridicule as his real buildings have done, and 
none ever excited more ; but I am convinced that he would have struck 
out many peculiar and characteristic effects ; and that a landscape 
gardener, who really deserved that name, would have touched with 
caution what he had done, and would have availed himself of many 
parts of such a garden. Now, indeed, had such a garden existed, we 
might only know it by report ; for it is highly probable that Mr. 
Brown, unless restrained by the owner, would have so completely de- 
molished the whole, as to " leave not a rack behind." 

I should be sorry to be thought guilty of any unfairness to Mr. 
Brown, but I can only judge of what it is probable he would have 
done, by what he usually has done, and by the general tendency of his 
system ; nor do I think it unfair to suppose, that where there are in- 
stances of his having spared old gardens or avenues, some resolute 
owner, of a more enlarged mind, 

" The little tyrant of his place withstood.** 

Had I happened to have seen the noble avenue of oaks I mentioned in 
a former part,* standing entire, and neither clumped nor defaced, and 
to have simply heard that Mr. Brown had been employed, I should 
naturally have given him credit for so judicious a forbearance. But at 
the time I saw the trees, I was told by the owner himself, that he had 
resolutely preserved what Mr. Brown had as j)eremptorily condemned ; 
proposing (if I remember right) to plant larches in their room. 

But though Vanbrugh did not make what may properly be called 
a garden at Blenheim, he made a preparation for one, a sort of architec- 
tural foreground to his building, which, in consequence of the modern 
taste in improvement, has been entirely destroyed. As I never saw it 
while it existed, nor even any representations of it, I do not pretend to 
say that there may not have been very good reasons against preserving 
every part of it ; but I should greatly doubt, whether a sufficient 
motive could have been assigned for destroying the whole. 

I may perhaps have spoken more feelingly on this subject, from 
having done myself what I so condemn in others — destroyed an old- 

* Essay on the Picturesque. Chap. X. 



fashioned garden. It was not indeed in the high style of those I have 
described, but it had many circumstances of a similar kind and effect. 
As I have long since perceived the advantage which I could have made 
of them, and how much I could have added to that effect — how well I 
could in parts have mixed the modern style, and have altered and con- 
cealed many of the stiff and glaring formalities, I have long regretted 
its destruction. I destroyed it, not from disliking it ; on the contrary, 
it was a sacrifice I made against my own sensations to the prevailing 
opinion. I doomed it and all its embellishments, with which I had 
formed such an early connection, to sudden and total destruction ; pro- 
bably much upon the same idea as many a man of careless, unreflect- 
ing, unfeeling good-nature, thought it his duty to vote for demolishing 
towns, provinces, and their inhabitants, in America : like me — but how 
different the scale and the interest ! — they chose to admit it as a prin- 
ciple, that whatever obstructed the prevailing system, must be all 
thrown down, all laid prostrate — no medium, no conciliatory methods 
were to be tried, but, whatever might follow, destruction must precede. 

I remember, that even this garden— so infinitely inferior to those of 
Italy — had an air of decoration and of gaiety arising from that decora- 
tion ; un air pare, a distinction from mere unembellished nature, which, 
whatever the advocates for extreme simplicity may allege, is surely 
essential to an ornamented garden — all the beauties of undulaiing 
ground, of shrubs, and of verdure, are to be found in places where no 
art has ever been employed, and consequently cannot bestow a distinc- 
tion which they do not possess ; for, as I have elsewhere remarked, 
they must themselves, in some respects, be considered as unembellished 

Among other circumstances, I have a strong recollection of a raised 
terrace, seen sideways from that in front of the house, in the middle of 
which was a flight of steps with iron rails, and an arched recess below 
it, backed by a wood. These steps conducted you from the terrace 
into a lower compartment, where there was a mixture of fruit-trees, 
shrubs, and statues, which, though disposed with some formality, yet 
formed a dressed foreground to the woods ; and, with a little alteration, 
would have richly and happily blended with the general landscape. 

It has been justly observed, that the love of seclusion and safety is 
not less natural to man than that of liberty — and our ancestors have 
left strong proofs of the truth of that observation. In many old places 
there are almost as many walled compartments without, as apartments 
within doors ; and though there is no defending the beauty of brick 
walls, yet still that appearance of seclusion and safety, when it can be 



so contrived as not to interfere with general beauty, is a point well 
worth obtaining — and no man is more ready than myself to allow, that 
the comfortable is a principle which should never be neglected. On 
that account, all walled gardens and compartments near a house — all 
warm, sheltered, sunny walks under walls planted with fruit-trees, are 
greatly to be wished for — and should be preserved, if possible, when 
once established. I, therefore, regret extremely, not only the compart- 
ment I just mentioned, but another garden immediately beyond it ; and 
I cannot forget the sort of curiosity and surprise that was excited after 
a short absence, even in me, to whom it was familiar, by the simple 
and common circumstance of a door that led from the first compart- 
ment to the second, and the pleasure I always experienced on entering 
that inner, and more secluded garden. There was nothing, however, 
in the garden itself to excite any extraordinary sensations — the middle 
part was merely planted with the lesser fruits, and dwarf trees ; but, 
on the opening of the door, the lofty trees of a fine grove appeared im- 
mediately over the opposite wall ; — the trees are still there, they are 
more distinctly and openly seen, but the striking impression is gone. 
On the right was another raised terrace, level with the top of the wall 
that supported it, and overhung with shrubs, which, from age, had lost 
their formality. A flight of steps of a plainer kind, with a mere para- 
pet on the sides, led up to this upper terrace underneath the shrubs 
and exotics. 

All this gave me emotions in my youth, which I long imagined were 
merely those of early habit ; but I am now convinced that was not all 
— they also arose from a quick succession of varied objects, of varied 
forms, tints, lights, and shadows — they arose from the various degrees 
of intricacy and suspense that were produced by the no less various 
degrees and kinds of concealment, all exciting and nourishing curiosity, 
and all distinct in their character from the surrounding landscapes. I 
will beg my reader's indulgence for going on to trace a few other cir- 
cumstances which are now no more. These steps, as I mentioned 
before, led to an upper terrace, and thence, through the little wilderness 
of exotics, to a summer-house, with a luxuriant Virginia creeper grow- 
ing over it ; this summer-house and the creeper — to my great sorrow at 
the time, to my regret ever since, to my great surprise at this moment, 
and probably to that of my reader — I pulled down, for I was told that 
it interfered so much with the levelling of the ground, with its flowing 
line and undulation, in short, with the prevailing system, that it could 
not stand. Beyond this again, as the last boundary of the garden, was 
a richly worked iron gate at the entrance of a solemn grove ; and they 



both, in no small degree, added to each other's effect. This gate, and 
the summer-house, and most of the objects I have mentioned, combined 
to enrich the view from the windows and from the home terrace. What 
is there now? Grass, trees, and shrubs only. Do I feel the same 
pleasure, the same interest in this ground ? Certainly not. Has it 
now a richer and more painter-like effect as a foreground ? I think 
not by any means ; for there were formerly many detached pieces of 
scenery which had an air of comfort and seclusion within themselves, 
and at the same time formed a rich foreground to the near and more 
distant woods, and to the remote distance. 

The remark of a French writer may very justly be applied to some 
of these old gardens — " L'agreable y etait souvent sacrifie a futile, et 
en general l'agreable y gagna." 

All this, however, was sacrificed to undulation of ground only, for 
shrubs and verdure were not wanting before. That undulation might 
have been so mixed in parts with those decorations and abruptnesses, 
that they would have mutually added to each other's charms ; but I 
now can only lament what it is next to impossible to restore, and can 
only reflect how much more difficult it is to add any of the old decora- 
tions to modern improvements, than to soften the old style by blending 
with it a proper portion of the new. My object (as far as I had any 
determinate object besides that of being in the fashion) was, I imagine, 
to restore the ground to what might be supposed to have been its ori- 
ginal state ; I probably have in some degree succeeded, and, after much 
difficulty, expense, and dirt, I have made it look like many other parts 
of mine and of all beautiful grounds — with but little to mark the differ- 
ence between what is close to the house and what is at a distance from 
it — between the habitation of man and that of sheep. 

If I have detained the reader so long in relating what personally 
concerns myself, I did it because there is nothing so useful to others, 
however humiliating to ourselves, as the frank confession of our errors 
and of their causes. No man can, equally with the person who com- 
mitted them, impress upon others the extent of the mischief done, and 
the regret that follows it — can compare the former with the present 
state, and what might have been, with what has been done. I cannot 
flatter myself that my example will be followed by many statesmen ; 
but were the ministers who undertook the management of rash, impolitic 
wars to be seized with a fit of repentance, and, for the sake of making 
some reparation, to write their confessions — were they to give a frank 
detail of the errors, (if they deserve no worse a name,) and of the vari- 
ous times when their mind possibly recoiled at what they were execut- 



ing — and how their own ambition, and the blind, unrelenting power of 
system goaded them on, though they then felt how easily those coun- 
tries, whose mutual enmity they kept up, might have coalesced, and 
added to each other's happiness and prosperity ; such a detail of dark 
and crooked manoeuvres — so useful a testament politique, would almost 
atone for the crimes which it recorded. With respect to my confession, 
it may be said that, having made it, I have little right to censure Mr. 
Brown if he has committed the same errors. I will not plead, what 
might well be alleged, youth and inexperience — the true plea, the true 
distinction, is, that he was a professor, that he acted in a public capa- 
city, and that, therefore, every act of his is open to public criticism ; 
nor will I so far undervalue what I have done, for the sake of showing 
in a stronger light what I ought not to have undone, as not allow that 
many beauties have arisen from the change. It is the total change — it 
is the total destruction I regret, even of a garden so inferior to those that 
I remember in Italy, though with many of the same kind of decorations. 

£It is quite impossible for any person of taste to read the foregoing 
confession, without giving the highest commendation to its honesty, 
and without experiencing the deepest emotions of sympathetic feeling 
with the regret so eloquently expressed by its author. But, alas, it only 
recalls to mind how very universal the destruction of these old home 
gardens has been over the whole of our country, and how few of them 
comparatively now remain, in such a state of integrity as to furnish true 
samples of what we have lost. I could still name some, besides that 
near Hamilton, from which the design for the frontispiece to this work 
has been taken, and that at Drummond Castle particularly occurs to 
me at this moment as one. In considering the pleasure grounds of a 
place, no one can be more desirous than I am to see nature everywhere 
triumphant, and that, even when educated by art, she shall still be 
Nature. No one can more fully appreciate than I do, that beautiful de- 
scription in the Gierusalemme Liberata, when applied to such a pleasure 
ground — a description which has been so often re-echoed by other poets. 

" In lieto aspetto il bel giardin s'aperse ; 
Acque stagnanti, mobili cristalli, 
Fior vari, e varie piante, herbe diverse, 
Apriche collinette, ombrose valli ; 
Selve, e spelonche in una vista offerse. 
E quel, cbe'l bello, e'l caro accresce a l'opre, 
L'arte, che tutto fa, nulla si scopre." 

But much as my feelings coincide with this description as it regards 
the garden or grounds that retire from the mansion, there is nothing of 


30 G 


which 1 am more convinced than of the propriety and necessity of al- 
lowing the art to become more apparent in the gardening which comes 
into more immediate contiguity with the mansion. My rule would be, 
that the house and its subsidiary buildings should be directly associated 
with designs of a character which may have much of architectural re- 
gularity, as well as actual architectural feature about them. By this 
means the house itself not only becomes a more pleasing object to look 
at from all points, but the different views enjoyed from it become much 
more interesting, from the enrichment of the foreground by minor archi- 
tectural objects. Straight lined terraces, bowling-greens balustrades. 

vases, sun-dials architectural seats, fountains, aud statues, mingled with 
a profusion of shrubs, plants, and creepers, are all appropriate and useful 
decorations in such a place. The more formal trees, such as cypresses, 
Lombardy poplars, Irish yews, &c, come well into harmony with the 
architectural design, and, in some instances, box-hedges may be desirable, 
especially where they are contrasted with shrubs of a freer growth — 
the general design being to produce that intricacy and richness which 
begets interest, and to furnish an assemblage of objects to throw back 
the distances. Happy is the man who has had the luck to have a 
travelled ancestor, who may have imported the taste of such a garden 
from Italy, and who may have had the energy to construct one around 
the family dwelling, provided the more immediate predecessors of the 
living owner have had the good sense to leave it entire. Such a legacy 
is a perfect treasure to an old place, filled as it is with its many asso- 
ciations — with those groups of gentle knights and ladies fair, who, in 
different ages, have lounged upon its seats, listening to the soothing 
murmur of its fountains, or talked of love or other important trifles as 



they moved along its terraces m all the glory of their gay attire, rival- 
ing the very butterflies that participated with them in the sweets of 
that Flora which perfumed the air around them. A newly constructed 
garden of this description can have no such direct associations. But 
still it must possess a sort of reflective association of this description, 
from recalling the recollection of those which existed in the olden time, 
together with all the ideas connected with them. And its effect, in 
relation to the more distant landscape and grounds, must be the same, 
the moment its various parts are so grown up as to perfect the design. 
And thus it is that I agree entirely with the author of the " Landscape. 
a Poem," in the opinion expressed in these lines : — 

But better are these distant scenes display 'd 
From the high terrace, or rich balustrade — 
'Midst sculptured founts and vases, that diffuse, 
In shapes fantastic, their concordant hues — 
Than on the swelling slopes of waving ground, 
That now the solitary house surround. " 


M Oft when I've seen some lonely mansion stand. 
Fresh from the improver's desolating hand, 
'Midst shaven lawns, that far around it creep 
In one eternal undulating sweep — 
And scatter'd clumps, that nod at one another. 
Each stiffly waving to his formal brother — 
Tired with the extensive scene, so dull and bare, 
To Heaven devoutly I've addressed my prayer : — 
Again the moss-grown terraces to raise, 
And spread the labyrinth's perplexing maze — 
Replace in even lines the ductile yew, 
And plant again the ancient avenue." 

It is pleasant to think, however, that these more immediate accom- 
paniments of a house, the terrace, the balustrade, &c, are now every 
day becoming more generally considered as essential, and are attended 
to and studied by the ablest architects — so that we may hope soon to 
see the custom of putting down a house in the middle of a shaven grass 
lawn, like a tea-box on a green carpet, will be altogether exploded. — E.] 

I have hitherto spoken of these old gardens merely from my own 
opinion and feeling. It is right to show that their excellence may, 
with great probability, be grounded on much higher authority, and 
still more so to point out, as far as I am capable, on what principles 
that excellence is founded ; for without some principles, clearly dis- 
cernible in the thing itself, mere authority, however high, is insuffl- 


cient. I know very little of the history of the old Italian gardens, 
and of their dates ; but it is probable that several of them, which may 
have served as models for those of later times, were made during the 
most flourishing period of painting — and as some of the greatest painters 
were likewise architects, and were employed by their patrons in making 
designs for the houses of their villas, it is not improbable that they 
might have been consulted about the gardens. The most eminent 
sculptors, also, who, of course, understood all the principles of design, 
if not of painting, embellished those gardens with statues, fountains, 
vases, &c. — and where men so skilled in their different lines, and with 
such exalted ideas of art in general were employed, they would hardly 
suffer mean and discordant parts to be mixed with their works. 

Among the earlier painters, Michael Angelo, Raphael, and Giulio 
Romano, were architects as well as painters. I do not happen to 
know whether the house at the Villa D'Este was designed by M. An- 
gelo ; but — what is much more to my purpose — he is generally sup- 
posed to have planted the famous cypresses in the garden of that Villa. 
Raphael, I believe, gave one part of the design for the Villa Madama, 
and might possibly have been consulted about its accompaniments — 
for as the little grotesques with birds, insects, flowers, trellises, and all 
the minute ornaments of the Loggia were designed under his eye, and 
serve to accompany his sublime historical compositions, there is nothing 
absurd in supposing that he might have given some attention to the 
decorations of a garden. G. Romano, the most distinguished among 
the moderns for a highly poetical genius in painting, did not disdain to 
make drawings for the Duke of Mantua's plate ; and, therefore, could 
not have thought it a degradation of his art to have designed such a 
garden as would best accompany and set off his own architecture. 
That style of gardening, therefore, and those decorations which men of 
such eminence possibly may have designed, and certainly did not dis- 
dain to associate with their own designs, ought not to be treated with 
contempt and be totally banished, to make way for the productions of 
a Kent or a Brown. 

Having shown the possibility, at least, of such high authorities for 
the excellence of the old Italian gardens, I will now endeavour to point 
out what I conceive to be the principles on which that excellence is 

All persons, whether they have reflected upon the subject or not, 
are universally pleased with smoothness and flowing lines — and thence 
the great and general popularity of the present style of gardening ; 
but, on the other hand, those who have paid any attention to scenery, 



are more struck with sudden projections and abruptnesses — more 
struck, for instance, with rocks, precipices, and cataracts, than with 
meadows, swelling hills and woods, and gentle rivers ; — for in all such 
rugged abrupt forms, though they may be only picturesque, there is 
still a tendency towards the sublime ; that is, towards the most power- 
ful emotion of the human mind.* The great point, not merely in im- 
provements, but in all things that are designed to affect the imagina- 
tion, is to mix, according to circumstances, what is striking with what 
is simply pleasing. This seems the principle in architecture. Porticos, 
cornices, &c, are sudden projections ; but then they differ from what 
is merely picturesque in their symmetry and regularity; and, with 
respect to ornaments, those of the Corinthian capitals, as well as all 
friezes and raised work of every kind, though they are sharp and 
broken, yet are regularly so, and many of them consist of the most 
beautiful curves and flowing lines. The same principle seems to have 
been studied in many of the old Italian gardens. Terraces, flights of 
steps, parapets, &c, are abrupt — but they are regular and symmetrical ; 
their abruptness produces bold and striking effects of light and shadow, 
less bold and varied indeed than those which arise from irregular 
abruptness, as from rocks and broken ground, but infinitely more so 
than those which proceed from smoothness and flowing lines. These 
strong effects are peculiarly useful in the foreground ; both because 
there the eye requires a more marked and decided character, and, like- 
wise, because they throw off the softer lines, tints, and shadows of the 
distance. The old decorated foregrounds were manifestly artificial, and 
therefore by modern improvers may be reckoned formal ; but there is a 
wide difference between an avowed and characteristic formality, and a 
formality not less real, but which assumes the airs of ease and playful- 
ness — between that which is disguised by the effect of high dress and 
ornament, and that whose undisguised baldness has no air of decoration 
to conceal or ennoble its character. 

There is an anecdote of Lord Stair, when Ambassador at the Court 
of France, so characteristic of the effect of high and dignified formality 
in dress and appearance, that though it may be familiar to many of my 
readers, I cannot forbear mentioning it. Lord Stair was determined, 
upon system, to treat Louis XIV. with some degree of arrogance, and 
endeavour to bully him. Upon trial, however, he could not go through 
with it ; and, afterwards, in giving an account of his intention and his 
failure, he said, " J'avoue que la vieille machine m'a impose." 

* Essay on the Picturesque, Chap. IV. 



I shall now endeavour to explain the distinction 1 have drawn above, 
by giving an example. A broad dry walk near the house is indispensable 
to the comfort of every gentleman's habitation. In the old style, such 
walks were very commonly paved; in the modern, they are generally 
gravelled, but the great difference in their character arises from their 
immediate boundaries. That of the gravel walk is of pared ground, than 
which nothing can be more meagre or formal, or have a poorer effect 
in a foreground ; and however the line may be broken and disguised by 
low shrubs partially concealing its edge, it still will be meagre ; and if 
the grass be suffered to grow over those edges more strongly than in 
the other mowed parts, it will look slovenly, but neither rich nor 
picturesque. But the paved terrace, in its least ornamented state, is 
bounded by a parapet ; and the simple circumstance of hewn stone and 
a coping, without any farther addition, has a finished and determined 
form, together with a certain massiveness which is wanting to the other ; 
on which account, and from the opposition of its colour to the hue of 
vegetation, such mere walls are sometimes introduced as parts of the 
foreground by the greatest painters. When the walk before the door is 
of gravel, and that gravel is succeeded by the mowed grass of the 
pleasure ground, and that again by the grass of the lawn, nothing can 
be more insipid ; if broken by trees and shrubs only, however judici- 
ously they may be disposed, still the whole makes a comparatively flat 
and unvaried foreground, whether it be viewed in looking at, from, or 
towards the house. But when architectural ornaments are introduced 
in the garden immediately about the house — however unnatural raised 
terraces, fountains, flights of steps, parapets, with statues, vases, 
balustrades, &c, may be called — however our ancestors may have been 
laughed at, (and I was much diverted, though not at all convinced by 
the ridicule) for " walking up and down stairs in the open air,"* — the 
effect of all those objects is very striking ; and they are not more un- 
natural, that is, not more artificial, than the houses which they are in- 
tended to accompany. 

Nor is their own form and appearance singly to be considered, for 
their influence extends to other objects. Whatever trees are mixed 
with them, whether pines and cypresses, or the many beautiful varieties 
with which our gardens abound, they give a value to the tints of vege- 
tation which no opposition between trees of different sorts can give to 
each other ; and this is a consideration of no small moment. The con- 
trast that arises from the tint of stone, either worked or in its natural 

* Mr. Walpole on Modern Gardening. 



state, (and the same may be said of many tints of broken ground,) has 
the great advantage of detaching objects from each other by a marked 
difference of form, tint, and character, but without the smallest injury 
to general harmony ; whereas, strong contrasts in the colours of foliage, 
of flowers, and of blossoms, destroy harmony, without occasioning either 
the same degree or kind of distinction. 

I have already mentioned the superiority of the terrace walk in its 
simplest state with a mere parapet, over the gravel walk with its pared 
edge of grass, as an immediate foreground ; and it is clear that one cause 
of that superiority is the contrast between the colour of stone and 
the tints of vegetation. The inferiority of the gravel walk in such a 
situation proceeds likewise from another circumstance — its boundary is 
not only meagre as well as formal, but is incapable of receiving any 
ornament, or of being varied with any effect. The parapet, on the 
contrary, admits of a great degree of ornament, and also, what is very 
material, of a mixture of the light and pliant forms of vegetation with 
the uniform unbending substance of stone, and the enrichment of the sculp- 
tor. Should the solid wall be thought too heavy, a balustrade, without 
destroying the breadth, gives a play of light and shadow of the most 
striking kind, which occurs in the works of all the painters ; on the 
top of the coping, urns, vases, flower-pots, &c, of every shape and size, 
find their place ; vines, jasmines, and other beautiful and fragrant 
climbing plants, might add their loose festoons to those imitated in 
sculpture, twining round and between the balusters, clustering on the 
top, and varying the height of the wall in every style and degree that 
the painter might direct. In the summer, oranges, myrtles, and " each 
plant of firm and fragrant leaf," would most happily mix with them 
all ; and vases of elegant forms, as well as the plants contained in them, 
would add to the general richness and variety. 

I will here add, as a farther illustration of this subject, that a bank 
in its broken and picturesque state has the same advantage in giving 
effect to whatever plants are placed upon it, as the ornamented parapet 
and many other ornamented parts of the old gardens, and upon the 
same principle. The only difference is, that in the one case every 
thing is regular, in the other irregular. A smooth bank, uniformly 
and regularly sloped, is in ground what a mere wall is in building — 
neat and finished, but totally without variety. On the other hand, 
the overhanging coping, the cornice or moulding, projections of every 
kind, with their correspondent hollows, answer to the projections and 
coves which accident produces in neglected banks. The various in- 
equalities in the sides and summits of such banks, whether arising from 



mould deposited there, from large stones or bits of rock whence the 
mould has been washed away, from old trunks of trees, and other rude 
objects, correspond, in their general effect of diversifying the outline, 
with the vases, urns, flower-pots, &c. The stronger divisions of the 
roots of trees from which the soil has crumbled away and left them 
insulated and detached, may be compared to the openings made by 
balustrades ; or, if the fibres be smaller and more intricate, to the open 
work and foliage of gates or palisades in wrought iron. All these, in 
either case, accord with the general principle of ornament, as being in 
various degrees and styles, raised or detached from the surface — some 
broad and massy, some minute, light, and intricate ; but in the one 
case, from being regular and symmetrical, they are considered as orna- 
ments — in the other, from being irregular, and not designed by art, 
they are very commonly destroyed or concealed as deformities. 

A large old knotty trunk of a tree would generally be rooted up in 
any part meant to be improved, even at a distance from the house, much 

more if near it ; in my idea, however, great advantage might be taken 
of objects of that kind, even in a pleasure ground. Such a knotty trunk 
adorned, and half concealed by honeysuckles, jasmines, and roses, 
reverses the image of Iole dressed in the Lion's skin — it is the club of 
Hercules adorned by her with wreaths of flowers. Iole herself is the 
best example of the union of the beautiful with the picturesque ; as 
likewise of the true cause of the sublime, and of its distinction from the 
last mentioned character. The spoils of the most terrible of animals, 
the warlike accoutrements of the most renowned of heroes, being divested 
of terror, only serve to heighten the effect of beauty. 

I have already described the effect of mixing the fresh tints, and 
pliant forms of vegetation with vases, balustrades, &c. in a former part 



of my Essay, as also their effect when mixed with trunks and roots of 
trees, and when hanging over the coves or the projections of a pictu- 
resque bank.* I will now add, that in such a bank, every break, every 
cove, every projection, is an indication, where some tree, shrub, climb- 
ing, or trailing plant, may be placed with immediate effect. The use of 
such indications even to men of high invention, and the assistance which 
they give to that invention, may be learned from the practice and recom- 
mendation of no less a man than Leonardo da Vinci, who advises artists 
to attend to the stains in old walls ; and indeed the singular and ca- 
pricious forms as well as tints which they exhibit, would assist the most 
fruitful painter's imagination. This is the principle on which that- 
ingenious artist, M. Cozens, practised and recommended the making of 
compositions from blots. But when we come to consider a bank sloped 
by art, there is no motive of preference, nothing to determine the choice ; 
and, therefore, in such banks, it is very natural that the plantations 
should have the same monotony as the ground on which they are planted. 
This holds in an equal degree in all smooth and levelled ground, and 
this one cause of the general monotony of modern improvements acts 
doubly ; for in all broken picturesque banks, whatever their scale, each 
variety that is destroyed is not only a loss in itself, but it is also a loss 
considered as an indication how other correspondent beauties and 
varieties might have been produced. 

To give effect and variety of character to foregrounds (in which light 
all the garden near the house may be considered) the forms, tints, and 
masses of stone or of wood-work, must often be opposed to those of 
vegetation what is artificial to what is natural ; and this, I believe, is 
the general principle that should be attended to from the palace to the 
cottage. A cottage, with its garden pales, and perhaps some shrub, or 
evergreen, a bay or a lilac, appearing through, and fruit-trees hanging 
over them ; with its arbour of sweet-brier and honeysuckle, supported 
by rude wood- work, or a rustic porch covered with vine or ivy — is an 
object which is pleasing to all mankind, and not merely to the painter. 
He, indeed, feels more strongly the value of their connection and 
disposition ; but deprive the cottage of these circumstances, place it (as 
many a modern house is placed) on mere grass and unaccompanied — 
will the painter only regret them? what such rustic embellishments are 
to the cottage, terraces, urns, vases, statues and fountains are to the 
palace or palace-like mansion. These last indeed are splendid and 
costly decorations, and may not without reason be thought to require 

Essay on the Picturesque, Chap. II. 



that the whole should be of the same character ; but there are some 
which appear to accord with every style and scale of houses and gardens. 
Trellises, with the different plants twining round them, and even the 
small basket-work of parterres, have a mixture of natural and of 
artificial, and of the peculiar intricacy of each ; of firmness and play- 
fulness ; of what is fixed, with what is continually changing. I there- 
fore regret that fashion has so much banished them from gardens ; but, 
if I may be allowed to apply, though to a new subject, so very hack- 
neyed a quotation, I will venture to prophesy in Horace's words, and 
boldly say, 

" Multa renascentur quae jam cecklere, cadentque 
Quae nunc sunt in honore." 

[Tt is a matter of great self congratulation to every one of taste, to 
behold this prophecy now so rapidly realizing. The old system of 
having nothing but shaven grass, and bare gravel around the house, 
with no other accompaniment to divide it off from the lawn, but some 
wretched wire fence, or invisible green paling, is fast giving way to the 
introduction of walled or balustraded terraces, and all the rich decorations 
of the old gardens. It is now becoming the practice to have some orna- 
mental garden j)remises, if I may so express myself, all around the man- 
sion. A lady may now walk forth upon her terrace, and trip down the 
steps into her flower garden — wander among its vases — its basket-works, 
and its quaintly conceived knottings — inhaling the perfume of its rare 
and delicious plants — disappear for a time among the intricacies of her 
full grown alleys, and all this without the necessity of bonneting or 
cloaking herself to be prepared to meet with strangers, as she would 
require to do in one of those places where such a home garden is want- 
ing, and w T here she would be no sooner out of the door, than she would 
be in the park. — E.] 

I shall probably be accused by Mr. Brown's admirers, of endeavour- 
ing to bring about a counter-revolution, and to restore the ancien 
regime^ with all its despotism of straight lines and perpetual symmetry. 
It is true that I have some attachment to the old monarchy, though I 
should not like to have it restored without strict limitations ; but my 
wish, in this instance, is to combat the despotism of modern improvers, 
as resembling in a great degree that of religious intolerance — for they 
allow no salvation out of their own pale. In this case, as in most 
others, I should rather choose to follow the example of ancient, than of 
modern Rome. The old Romans not only tolerated every style of 
worship, but mixed and incorporated them with their own. The gods 



of Greece and of Homer, still kept their eminent stations ; but there was 
always some corner where devotions might be paid to Apis or Anubis ; 
and such there might be in any place, whatever its character, where a 
man who had a taste for the Dutch style, might enjoy his tulips, amidst 
box or yew hedges, labyrinths, &c. 

ft And in trim gardens take his pleasure." 

This may be considered as no slight indulgence from a professed ad- 
mirer of the Italian gardens ; for it is highly probable that their destruc- 
tion and the total banishment of that style was owing to its having been 
contaminated, by being mixed with the Dutch style at its introduction. 
All sculptural and architectural ornaments in gardens, though objections 
might be made to them as being too artificial, not only give impressions 
of magnificence and expensive decoration, but also recall ideas of the most 
exquisite works of art, even though the particular specimens should be 
rude copies, or imitations of them ; — whereas the vegetable giants, obe- 
lisks, &c, of a Dutch Garden when they became principal, carried 
with them such glaring marks of unimprovable rudeness and absurdity, 
as made a change unusually popular. With regard to such topiary works, 
as they are called, there is a very curious passage in a Latin poem of 
Pontanus de hortis Hesperidum. After giving rules for the preparation 
and fencing of the ground, he says — 

" Infode dehinc teneram prolem, et sere tramite certo, 
Et vinclis obstringe, obeunda ut munera discant 
A pueris, sed quisque suo spatioque, locoque. 
Inde ubi, et assiduo cultuque operaque magistri 
Porrigit et ramos, et frondes explicat arbos, 
Ad munus lege quamque suum, et dispone figuras ; 
Gratum opus, informemque gregem ad speciosa vocato. 
Haec altam in turrim, aut in propugnacula surgat ; 
Hsec arcum intendatque et spicula trudat ; at ilia 
Muniat et vallo fossas, et maenia cingat. 
Ilia tuba armatos ciat, et vocet agmen ad arma ; 
Altera tormento lapides jaculetur aheno, 
Discutiat castella, et ruptis agmina muris 
Immittat, fractaque acies (immane) ruina 
Irrumpat, portis et congrediatur apertis, 
Diruat et captam irrumpens exercitus urbem." 

When we consider that the performers in this grand siege are trees, 
which, in their natural state, are called a shapeless crowd, we shall be 
apt to exclaim immane! with the author — a word, which though totally 
useless in his verse, would be aptly used to express our surprise at such 
a portentous garden. 



These absurdities, in their ruin, carried away all the Italian ornaments 
that were mixed with them. The revolution, therefore, which, together 
with King William, brought over the taste of his country in gardening, 
may be said to have sown the seeds of another revolution hardly less 
celebrated. But the revolution in taste differed very essentially from 
that in politics, and the difference between them bears a most exact 
relation to the character of their immediate authors. That in politics, 
was the steady, considerate, and connected arrangement of enlightened 
minds ; equally free from blind prejudice for antiquity, and rage for 
novelty ; neither fond of destroying old, nor of creating new systems. 
The revolution in taste is stamped with the character of all those, which 
either in religion or politics have been carried into execution by the 
lower and less enlightened part of mankind. Knox and Brown differ 
very little in their manner of proceeding ; no remnant of old super- 
stition, or old taste, however rich and venerable, was suffered to remain, 
and our churches and gardens have been equally stripped of their orna- 

I have now mentioned what appear to me the chief excellences of 
the old Italian gardens, but I am very far from undervaluing, or wish- 
ing upon that account, in all instances to condemn modern improve- 
ments. The former part of my essay, as I before observed, relates 
almost entirely to the grounds, and not to what may properly be called 
the garden ; and this distinction I wish the reader to keep in his mind, 
lest he should be led to imagine that I praise at one time, what I cen- 
sured at another. In my idea, Mr. Brown has been most successful in 
what may properly be called the garden, though not in that part of it 
which is nearest the house. The old improvers went abruptly from the 
formal garden to the grounds, or park ; but the modern pleasure garden 
with its shrubs and exotics, would form a very just and easy gradation 
from architectural ornaments, to the natural woods, thickets, and pas- 
tures. All highly ornamented walks, such as terraces, &c, of course 
can only have place near the house ; in the more distant parts of the 
garden, the gravel walk is, in like manner, a proper gradation from them 
to the simple pathway. The garden scene at Blenheim is one of the 
best specimens of the present style, and I have already endeavoured to 
point out what are its few defects, and whence its many beauties arise.* 
Had Vanbrugh formed an architectural garden for a certain space im- 
mediately before the house, it would not have interfered with this more 
extended garden, or pleasure ground ; on the contrary, it would pro- 

* Essay on the Picturesque, Chap. XII. 



bably have enhanced the pleasure of it, and with a slight alteration or 
disguise, the one style might have been blended with the other, and 
magnificence of decoration happily united with the magnificence and 
beauty of natural scenery. In the garden scene at Blenheim the gravel 
walk appears in great perfection ; the sweeps are large, easy, and 
well taken ; and though in wild and romantic parts such artificial bends 
destroy the character of the scenery, yet in gardens, where there must 
be regular borders to the walks, an attention to the different curves is 
indispensable ; and the skill that is shown in conducting them, though 
not to be rated too high, is by no means without its merit. That was 
Mr. Brown's forte, and there he was a real improver ; for before him, 
the horror of straight lines made the first improvers on the new system, 
conceive that they could hardly make too many turns. I am told, that 
he began the reformation of those zigzag, corkscrew walks ; and that 
he used to say of them, with very just ridicule, that you might put one 
foot upon zig, and the other upon zag. His misfortune, (and still more 
that of his employers,) was that, knowing his forte, he resorted to it 
upon all occasions, and carried the gravel walk, its sweeps, and its lines, 
to rivers, to plantations, and universally to all improvements ; not con- 
tented with making gardens, many parts of which he well understood, 
he chose to make landscapes, of which he was worse than ignorant — 
for of them he had the falsest conceptions. Against his landscapes, not 
against his gardens, has almost the whole of my attack been pointed. 
In the one, every thing he did is to be avoided ; in the other, many 
things are worthy of attention and imitation. In regard to the walks 
at Blenheim, another circumstance, though minute, adds to their per- 
fection : they are so artfully laid, that the surface becomes a sort of 
mosaic ; and notwithstanding their inherent defects, they add a higher 
polish to that beautiful garden scene. Whenever any thing can be 
devised, that has the neatness and dressed appearance of the gravel 
walk, without its distinct lines and meagre edge, I shall be very glad of 
the exchange ; in the meantime, I must own, I know of no other me- 
thod of having a dry walk for any length through a pleasure ground, in 
character with that ground. 

With respect to fountains and statues, as they are among the most 
refined of all garden ornaments, so they are most liable to be introduced 
with impropriety. Their effect, however, (especially that of water 
in motion mixed with sculpture,) is of the most brilliant kind ; yet 
though fountains make the principal ornaments of the old Italian 
gardens, they are almost entirely banished from ours : statues in some 
degree still remain. Fountains have been objected to as unnatural, as 



forcing water into an unnatural direction. I must own I do not feel 
the weight of that objection ; for natural jets d'eaux, though rare, do 
exist, and are among the most surprising exhibitions of nature. Such 
exhibitions, when imitable, are surely proper objects of imitation ; and 
as art cannot pretend to vie with nature in greatness of style and exe- 
cution, she must try to compensate her weakness by symmetry, variety, 
and richness of design ; and fountains, such as are still to be seen in 
Rome and its environs, may be classed with the most striking specimens 
of art, in point of richness and brilliancy of effect. But on the subject 
of fountains, I am inclined to risk what may be reckoned a bold position 
— that near a house on a large scale, this mode of introducing water in 
violent motion, so far from being improper, is, of all others, the mode 
in which it may be done with the most exact propriety. A palace can 
scarcely ever be built close to a grand natural cascade ; and the imita- 
tion of such great falls, unless the general scenery correspond with 
them, is the height of absurdity. Now, the imitation of water forced 
upwards in a column by a subterraneous cause, though one of the most 
marvellous and mysterious effects in nature, may, in some respects, on 
that very account, be imitated with less improbability than a cascade ; 
for it might take place in any spot whatever, and does not necessarily 
require accompaniments of a particular character, which a cascade does, 
if meant to appear natural. But laying aside these considerations, and 
supposing that there were no example in natural scenery of water 
forced upwards into the air, but that human ingenuity having discovered 
a power in nature capable of producing the most brilliant effects, had 
applied it to the purposes of human luxury and magnificence — I do 
not see why man should not be allowed to dispose of one element as of 
another — of a fluid as of a solid. No one blames the architect for 
cutting stone into forms of which there are no prototypes in nature. 
He does not imitate the rude irregular shapes of the rock or quarry 
whence he takes his materials — he considers that highly-finished sym- 
metrical buildings, decorated with artificial ornaments, are congenial to 
polished artificial man ; just as huts, dens, and caverns are to the 
wild savage, whether man or beast. In the same manner an architect- 
statuary, a Bernini, never could have thought of inquiring what were 
the precise forms of natural spouts of water ; he knew that water 
forced into the air, must necessarily assume a great variety of beautiful 
forms, which, added to its own native clearness and brilliancy, would 
admirably accord with the forms and the colour of his statues, with the 
decorations of architecture, and with every object around it ; he knew 
that he should preserve, and in some points increase all its characteris- 



tic beauties — its transparency — its lively motion — its delicious fresh- 
ness — its enchanting sound ; and add to it such magical effects of light 
and colours, as can hardly be conceived by those who have not seen a 
jet d'eau on a large scale. 

M Et dans Pair s'enflammant aux feux (Tun soleil pur, 
Pleuvoir en gouttes d'or, d'emeraude, et d'azur." 

Les Jar dins, Chant. I. 

I am indeed persuaded, that had there been specimens of natural water- 
spouts near Rome, such as those in Iceland, he would not, in ornamented 

scenes, have imitated those rude circumstances, whatever they may be, 
which give them the appearance of being natural. My reason for 
thinking so is, that there are often cascades as well as fountains in the 
old Italian gardens, and they are manifestly artificial, without any 
attempt to imitate that style of rudeness and irregularity which charac- 
terises those which are natural. The stones, indeed, of which they are 
composed, are rough, but they bear something of the same relation to 
the rough stones of a natural cascade and to their disposition, which 
the rustic used by architects bears to the roughness and irregularity of 
a natural rock. It will hardly be said that it was for want of proper 
models in nature, or the power of imitating them, that such cascades 
were made, when we recollect the nearness of Tivoli to Rome, and that 
the age of Bernini was that of Gaspar, Claude, and Poussin. From 
all those considerations it appears to me, that in the old Gardens art 



was meant to be apparent, and to challenge admiration on its own 
account, not under the disguise of nature — that richness, effect, and 
agreement with the surrounding artificial objects, were what the plan- 
ners and decorators of those gardens aimed at. In that light, fountains 
with sculpture are the most proper, as well as the most splendid orna- 
ments of such scenery. 

[Nothing, in my opinion, can be more beautiful than a well arranged 
fountain, nothing can produce a happier effect, in what I would call the 
home garden, than an architectural jet d'eau, the symmetry of which, 
and the sparkling effects of its ascending column, are calculated to har- 
monise so well with the various features of the house and its accom- 
paniments. Then, what can be more soothing than the gentle murmur 
of its falling waters, heard only when every thing else in nature is silent, 
as if it were the voice of the genius of the fairy ground in which it is 
placed. Such a sound of water gives life to a place. I remember when 
wandering one night through Rome, on a solitary romantic ramble to sur- 
vey its remains of antiquity by moonlight, at an hour long after the whole 
of its inhabitants were buried in repose, amidst the silence that prevailed, 
my ears caught the sound of the waters of the fountain of Trevi, when 
I was yet at the distance of several streets from it. The effect was 
such as to produce the sublimest emotions in my mind. I felt as if it was 
the spirit of the city that spoke to me. I thought of that beautiful 
passage in Corinne, which embodies somewhat of the same idea. 
" Corinne en revenant de chez une femme de ses amies, oppressee par 
la douleur, descendit de sa voiture et se reposa quelques instants pres de 
la fontaine de Trevi, devant cette source abondante qui tombe en cascade 
au milieu de Rome, et semble comme la vie de cette tranquille sejour. 
Lorsque pendant quelques jours cette cascade s'arrete on diroit que Rome 
est frappee de stupeur. C'est le bruit des voitures que Ton a besoin 
d'entendre dans les autres villes, a Rome c'est le murmure de cette 
fontaine immense qui semble comme l'accompagnement necessaire a 
l'existence reveuse qu'on y mene." In fountains the architecture should 
be chaste and classical, and the stream of water discharged should be 
abundant ; and in a jet d'eau I infinitely prefer a single column of con- 
siderable magnitude and height, to a number of insignificant and 
whimsical spoutings. The effects of light, both from the sun and moon 
on the falling water of a large single column are always exquisitely 
beautiful. — E.] 

But, although the full effects of fountains can only be displayed on a 
large scale, yet I believe that in all highly dressed parts, whatever be 
the scale, water may be introduced with more propriety in the style of 



an upright fountain, than perhaps in any other way. It would, for 
instance, be extremely difficult, in a flower-garden, to give to a stream 
of water the appearance of a natural rill, and yet to make it accord 
with the artificial arrangement and highly embellished appearance of 
such a spot. Now, the upright fountain seems precisely suited to it, 
as it is capable of any degree of sculptural decoration which the decora- 
tions of the place itself may require ; and likewise, as the forms in 
which water falls in its return towards the ground, not only are of the 
most beautiful kind, but have something of regularity and symmetry — 
two qualities which, more or less, are found in all artificial scenes. 

The propriety of introducing any highly artificial decorations, where 
there is nothing in the character of the mansion which may seem to 
warrant them, may perhaps be questioned ; for my own part, I would 
rather wish that some improprieties should be risked for the sake of 
effect (where the mischief, if such, could be repaired) than that im- 
provements should be confined to the present timid monotony. What 
has struck me in some cases, and in some points of view, as a fault in 
the general effect of marble statues in gardens, is their whiteness — but 
it is chiefly where there are no buildings nor architectural ornaments 
near them ; for, like other white objects, they make spots when placed 
amidst verdure only ; whereas the colour and the substance of stone or 
stucco, by assimilating with that of marble, takes off from a certain 
crudeness which such statues are apt to give the idea of when placed 
alone among trees and shrubs. This, however, must rather be considered 
as a caution than an objection. 

In forming a general comparison of the two styles of gardening, it 
seems to me that what constitutes the chief excellence of the old garden, 
is richness of decoration and of effect, and an agreement with the same 
qualities in architecture — its defects, stiffness, and formality. The excel- 
lences of the modern garden arc verdure, undulation of ground, diver- 
sity of plants, and a more varied and natural disposition of them than 
had hitherto been practised ; its defects, when considered as accompany- 
ing architecture, a uniformity of character too nearly approaching to 
common nature — when considered as improved natural scenery, a want 
of that playful variety of outline, by which beautiful scenes in nature 
are eminently distinguished. 

The whole of this, in my idea, points out one great source of Mr. 
Brown's defects. Symmetry is universally liked on its own account — 
formality, as such, universally disliked ; but we often excuse formality 
for the sake of symmetry ; — now, Mr. Brown has, upon system, and in 
almost all cases, very studiously destroyed symmetry, while he has in 


many instances preserved and even increased formality. He has also 
entirely banished straight lines, not knowing, or not reflecting, that the 
monotony of straight lines is frequently productive of grandeur, whereas 
there is a meanness as well as sameness in the continuation of regular 
curves. The terrace walk, therefore, which improvers of his school 
would probably object to on account of its straightness, had, from that 
very circumstance, a dignity and propriety in its situation, very dif- 
ferent from the winding gravel walk, to which it bears the same sort of 
relation as the avenue to the belt. " 

It will very naturally be said, that these rich and stately architec- 
tural and sculptural decorations are only proper where the house itself 
has something of the same splendid appearance. This is true in a 
great measure ; but though it is only in accompanying grand and 
magnificent buildings that the Italian garden has its full effect, yet, as 
there are numberless gradations in the style and character of buildings, 
from the palace or the ancient castle, to the plainest and simplest dwell- 
ing house, so different styles of architectural, or at least of artificial 
accompaniments, might, though more sparingly, be made use of in those 
lower degrees, without having our gardens reduced to mere grass and 
shrubs. These near decorations, in every different style and degree, 
and their application ought certainly to be studied by ornamental 
gardeners, as well as the more distant pleasure ground, aud still more 
distant landscapes of the place. All I presume to do, is to indicate 
what seem to me the general principles. The invention of new, and 
the application of old ornaments, require the talents of an artist ; but 
should the study of the principles of painting become an essential part 
of the education of an ornamental gardener, I should not despair of 
seeing them successfully applied to the particular objects which have 
been treated of in this Essay, as well as to those which appear more 
strictly to belong to the landscape painter. 

I am, indeed, well convinced that there is one way by which orna- 
mental gardening, in this confined, as well as in the more enlarged 
sense of it, would make a real and progressive improvement. It is, 
that landscape painters — and by no means those of the lowest class 
or ability — should give their attention to the peculiar character of 
such gardens ; that they should observe, without prejudice on either 
side, what modern improvers have done ; their merits, their defects, 
and the causes of them — that they should make the same observations 
on all that has been done in every age and country, and compare them 

* Essay on the Picturesque, Chap. X. 



with each other — in all this, putting fashion out of the question, and 
judging only by the great leading principles, not the particular practice 
of their own art. That they should mark the alterations which time 
and accident had produced, and consider how far such effects might be 
imitated in new works ; and, lastly, how all these more ornamented 
parts might be connected both with the house and the general scenery. 
By such studies many new lights would be thrown on the whole sub- 
ject, many new inventions and combinations worthy of being recorded 
would arise ; but the bane of all invention is exclusive attachment to 
one manner — and that, above all others, is the character of Mr. Brown's 
school of improvement. There is, indeed, a very false idea with respect 
to originality which may have influenced Mr. Brown — that of rejecting 
all study and imitation of what others have done, for fear of being sus- 
pected of want of invention. Sir Joshua Reynolds has admirably 
pointed out the fallacy of this notion, and the truth of a seeming para- 
dox, namely, that imitation — of course not of a servile kind — is often 
a source of originality ; and he has very happily remarked, that by 
ceasing to study the works of others, an artist is reduced to the poorest 
of all imitations — that of his own works. This seems precisely the 
case with Mr. Brown, and might possibly be owing to his ill-directed 
aim at originality. 

Were my arguments in favour of many parts of the old style of 
gardening ever so convincing, the most I could hope from them at 
present would be to produce some caution, and to assist in preserving 
some of the few remains of old magnificence that still exist, by making 
the owner less ready to listen to a professor, whose interest it is to re- 
commend total demolition. Besides the profit arising from total change, 
a disciple of Mr. Brown has another motive for recommending it — he 
hardly knows where to begin, or what to set about, till every thing is 
cleared ; for those objects which to painters are indications, to him are 

The owners of places where the old gardens have been preserved, may 
naturally feel, about raised terraces, &c. nearly as they would about 
avenues ; many who would hardly plant, might still be unwilling to 
destroy them. What exists, and is mellowed and consecrated by 
time, and varied by accident, is very different from the crudeness of 
new work ; it requires only a passive, or at most an obstinate indolence, 
to leave an old garden standing — it would require a very active deter- 
mination, in a man ever so well convinced of its merit, to form a new 
garden, or any part of it, after an exploded model. The change from 
upright terraces to undulating ground, is an obvious improvement ; it 


seems only to restore nature to its proper original state before it was 
disturbed ; but it appears a great refinement, which therefore will be 
admitted with difficulty to say — that what is unnatural and artificial 
(particularly with regard to ground) should be done, or left, if done 
already, in order to produce certain painter-like effects, that these 
raised terraces, &c. accord with the manifest art of all that belongs to 
building and architecture — that by contrast they give a greater relish 
for the natural undulations of the grounds in other parts, that they 
admit of more striking and varied ornaments than mere earth and 
grass, and form a just gradation from highly embellished to simple 
nature ; just as the polished lawn or grove does afterwards to the 
wilder wood-walks and pastures. 

Mr. Brown has been celebrated for the bold idea of taking down 
Richmond Terrace. The word bold, must always be misplaced in speaking 
of his works, and here as usual. Had he loosened the ground of a high, 
but regularly sloped bank of a river, and turned for some time the current 
against it, in order to take advantage of the breaks and varieties which 
that current might occasion — it would have been bold ; for then, in 
opposition to commonplace ideas, he would have searched after bold 
picturesque effects ; but smoothness, verdure, and a hanging level, were 
sure to be popular. I do not mean to discuss the merit of this alteration, 
though somewhat inclined to doubt of it ; but merely to question Mr. 
Brown's title to boldness of conception. His successor, who proposed 
blowing up the terrace at Powis Castle, had certainly more merit in 
point of .boldness. I think, however, that upon such occasions some 
qualifying epithet should be applied, such as splendide mendax ; and 
when we consider the flat operation that was to have ensued after the 
burst of gunpowder, we might say that the successor was more boldly 
tame, than his more illustrious predecessor. 

These remarks on the beauty of old gardens as connected with the 
house, may seem refinement to those who are the advocates of extreme 
simplicity ; and yet it must be considered, that in the higher styles of 
all the arts — in painting, in poetry, in all dramatic representations — the 
most striking effects are produced by heightening, and so far by devia- 
ting from common obvious nature, and by adding what is artificial to 
what is strictly simple and natural. The good or bad effects of such 
heightenings, deviations, and additions, depend upon the taste, judgment, 
and genius with which they are made ; what is merely fantastic and 
extravagant, and done upon no just principle, will very justly be 
neglected after the fashion is past ; but gardening must not pretend to 
differ from all the other fine arts, and reject all artificial ornaments. 



and pride herself upon simplicity alone, which, (as Sir Joshua Reynolds 
well observes in speaking of painting,) when it seems to avoid the 
difficulties of the art, is a very suspicious virtue. I do not mean by 
this the mere execution, though it is without comparison more difficult, 
in the Italian style. The difficulties in gardening, as in other arts, do 
not lie in forming the separate parts, in making upright terraces and 
fountains, or serpentine walks, plantations, and rivers, but in producing 
a variety of compositions and effects by means of those parts, and in 
combining them, whatever they may be, or however mixed, into one 
striking and well connected whole. 

£1 would only wish to add, to that which has been said on this sub- 
ject of gardens, that whilst untaught Nature, or the accurate imitation 
of an untaught Nature, should be permitted wildly to luxuriate every- 
where throughout the extended grounds, those more immediately con- 
nected with the house should be formed by a Nature, which has yielded 
herself somewhat to the rules of art, so as to be in harmony with the 
formality of architecture, and to carry out those associations of careful 
and laborious design, and liberal expenditure, which ought to arise 
from every thing connected with the mansion. It is not necessary that 
the old-fashioned garden should be so extensive as in some cases it used 
to be, in former times, though its bounds perhaps ought much to be 
regulated by the extent, the grandeur, or the consequence of the place. 
With reference to the size of the park, where all is unrestrained Nature, 
the formal garden should, I think, be at all times kept so subordinate, 
as chiefly to serve as a magazine of foregrounds for the various dis- 
tant views. In the construction of this architectural garden, I would 
borrow hints from Lord Bacon, though I would not by any means ser- 
vilely follow his or any other general receipt, but adapt my garden 
plan, both to the house to which it is attached, and to the grounds 
from which it separates the mansion. From the Roman Villas, I 
should, to use Lord Bacon's words on the subject of Travel, " prick 
in some flowers of what I had learned abroad," rather than copy every 
thing blindly and without consideration. Many valuable hints for 
this style might be got in the Isola Bella in the Lago Maggiore. 
In the Villa Pamfili Doria, " Si trovano lunghi e spaziosi viali, 
boschi, giardini, deliziose fontane, e un bellissimo lago con varie 
cadute d'acqua. Evvi inoltre una specie d'anfiteatro, ornato nella sua 
porte circolare di piccole fontane, di statue, c bassirilievi antichi, nel 
mezzo di cui e una stanza rotonda, in fondo della quale si vede una statua 
d'un Fauno, che con il suo flauto fa diverse suonate per mezzo d'una 



machina, che gli rimane al di dietro, dentro un piccolo stanzino, dove a 
forza d'acqua si da aria, e movimento ad una specie d'organo." And 
then, " Camminando per la Villa Borghese, si trovano vastissimi boschi, 
ameni prati, bellissimi viali, e dilettevoli giardini con ucceliere, e fontane. 
Nel fondo d'uno spazioso e lungo viale s'ammira un delizioso Lago. Nel 
mezzo di detto Lago evvi un isoletta, su cui vedesi un Terapio aperto, 
e dedicate ad Esculapio, dove e collocata una bella, e maestosa statua di 
questo nume, di Greco lavoro &e. Nella parte opposta del medesimo 
gran viale, vedesi in fondo un altro Tempio di figura rotonda, con otto 
colonne. In qualche distanza a sinistra trovasi una vastissima pianura, 
nella quale e un grandissimo Circo, atto alle corse dei cavalli, e ad 
ongni altra sorta di giuochi ginnici. Vi e anche una Cittadella : un 
edificio fatto ad iinitazione d'un 'antico avanzo d'un Tempio d'Antonino 
e di Fanstina, consistente in quattro belle colonne di granito, che sosten- 
gono il loro cornicione, ed un pezzo di frontespizio ; ed inoltre una 
Chiesa, ed un casino di riposo; il tutto fatto con architettura, e direzione 
<1' Antonio Asprucci." I must say that the ruined temple is the very 

best artificial ruin that I ever beheld, though i am tar from admiring 
any such attempt to produce modern ruins, which is at best merely a 
trick, that must lose all its effect the moment it is discovered. Indeed 
I have instanced these specimens of Italian gardens chiefly to show how 
much there is to be avoided, as well as to be imitated, in some of the 
very best of them. 



As to that kingdom of Nature which I should wish to see spreading 
itself over all the grounds, everywhere beyond the precincts of the 
architectural garden, I care not for my own part how much the goddess 
may be allowed to run riot. If it can be commanded, let us there have 
the realisation of Milton's description of Paradise : — 

" Eden, where delicious Paradise 
Crowns with her inclosure green, 
As with a rural mound, the champion head 
Of a steep wilderness ; whose hairy sides 
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild, 
Access denied ; and overhead up grew 
Insuperahle height of loftiest shade, 
Cedar and pine, and fir, and branching palm ; 
A silvan scene ! — and, as the ranks ascend 
Shade above shade, a woody theatre 
Of stateliest view." 



Ornamental Gardening is so connected with Architecture and Build- 
ings of every kind, that 1 am led to make some remarks on that subject 
also. At the same time I must acknowledge, with respect to Archi- 
tecture, that I have never made it my study as a separate art, but only 
as connected with scenery — and, therefore, shall chiefly confine my re- 
marks to what may naturally have fallen within the sphere of my own 

Architecture in towns may be said to be principal and independent — 
in the country it is in some degree subordinate and dependent on the 
surrounding objects. This distinction, though not sufficient to form a 
separate class, ought not to be neglected : had it been attended to, so 
many square, formal, unpicturesque houses of great expense might not 
have encumbered the scenes which they were meant to adorn. I am 
not surprised, however, that the style of country houses should have 
been too indiscriminately taken from those of towns. All the fine arts 
have been brought to their greatest perfection where large bodies of 
men have been settled together ; for wealth, emulation, and comparison 
are necessary to their growth ; and, of all the arts, architecture has 
most strikingly embellished the places where it has flourished. In 
cities, therefore, the greatest number and variety of finished pieces of 
architecture are to bo found — and it is not to be wondered at if those 



houses, which in cities were with reason admired, should have been the 
objects of general, and often of indiscriminate imitation. 

There are, however, very obvious reasons for making a difference of 
character in the two sorts of buildings. In a street, or a square, hardly 
any thing but the front is considered, for little else is seen — and even 
where the building is insulated, it is generally more connected with 
other buildings than with what may be called landscape. The spectator, 
also, being confined to a few stations, and those not distant, has his at- 
tention entirely fixed on the architecture, and the architect — but in 
the midst of landscape they are both subordinate, if not to the land- 
scape painter, at least to the principles of his art. 

In a letter written on tragedy to Count Alfieri, by an eminent critic, 
Signor Calsabigi, he insists very much on the necessity of uniting the 
mind of the painter with that of the poet, and that the tragic writer 
should be poeta-pittore ; it is no less necessary, and more literally so, 
that the architect of buildings in the country should be architetto-pit- 
tore; for, indeed, he ought not only to have the mind, but the hand of 
the painter — not only to be acquainted with the principles, but, as far 
as design goes, with the practice of landscape painting. All that be- 
longs to the embellishment of the scenes round country houses, has, of 
late years, been more generally and studiously attended to in this king- 
dom than in any other — architecture has also met with great encourage- 
ment ; but however its professors may have studied the principles of 
landscape painting, they have had but little encouragement to pursue 
those studies, or opportunity of connecting them practically with those 
of their own profession. AVhen a house was to be built, Mr. Brown, 
of course, decided with respect to its situation, the plantations that were 
to accompany it, the trees that were to be left or taken down, &c. — 
the architect, therefore, had only to consider how his owu design would 
look upon paper, unconnected with any other objects — he was no further 

Now, it seems to me, that if a person merely wants a house of 
beautiful architecture, with finely proportioned and well distributed 
rooms, and with convenient offices, and looks no further, the assistance 
of an architect, though always highly useful, is hardly necessary. A 
number of elevations and plans of such houses, of different forms and 
sizes, have been published ; or he may look at those which have been 
completed, observe their appearance and distribution, and suit himself 
— the estimate a common builder can make as well as a Palladio. 

I am very far from intending, by what I have just said, to undervalue 
a profession which I highly respect, or to suppose it unnecessary ; on 



the contrary, 1 am very anxious to show that whoever wishes his build- 
ings to be real decorations to his place, cannot do without an architect ; 
and by an architect I do not mean a mere builder, but one who has 
studied landscape as well as architecture, who is no less fond of it 
than of his own profession, and who feels that each different situation 
requires a different disposition of the several parts. In reality, this 
view of the profession points out the use, and greatly exalts the charac - 
ter, of an architect. It is an easy matter, by means of some slight 
changes in what has already been done, to avoid absolute plagiarism, and 
to make out such a design as may look well upon paper ; but, to unite 
with correct design such a disposition as will accord, not only with the 
general character of the scenery, but with the particular spot and the 
objects immediately around it, and which will present from a number 
of points a variety of well combined parts, requires very different and 
very superior abilities. 

There are many persons who give up all idea of beauty — except, 
perhaps, that of neat stone or brick work — and who, in order to have 
as little roof as possible, build up something 

" So tall, so stiff, some London house you 'd swear 
Had changed St. James' for a purer air." 

Something that looks as if it had once been squeezed between two 
neighbours, and now felt quite naked and solitary without them. I do 
not mean to argue with the builders of such houses ; they are satisfied, 
and their more difficult neighbours and visitors are alone to be pitied. 
There are others, however, who really think very much about the beauty 
of their house, and not less about that of their place, but who seem to 
think of them separately, and to be satisfied if both meet with separate 
approbation. But, even in point of vanity, any man, I think, must 
feel a wide difference between the reputation of having built a very 
elegant house, which makes a conspicuous figure in the Vitruvius Bri- 
tannicus. and the additional praise, so much more rare and appropriate, 
that the architecture, however beautiful, is but a small part of its merit 
— that it is not one of those houses which would do nearly as well on 
one spot as on another, but that it seemed as if some great artist had 
designed both the building and the landscape, they so peculiarly suit 
and embellish each other. 

Such union of character and effect can never be expected to prevail, 
till the application of the principles of painting to whatever in any way 
concerns the embellishment of our places becomes general ; and perhaps 
no set of men are so likely to bring about such a reform in the manner 



of placing and accompanying houses, and thence in every branch of 
improvement as the architetti-pittori . The education and habit of 
study among architects are so different from those of Mr. Brown and 
his school, and so much more congenial to painting, that I am persuaded 
a liberal architect would comply with his own, still more than with an 
improved public taste, in sacrificing something of the little exclusive 
vanity of his own particular profession, to the laudable ambition of 
uniting what never should be separated ; and, far from removing trees, 
which, though they might conceal parts of his works, gave much more 
effect to the whole, would wish, and would direct, such trees to be 

It may be said with much truth, that the reformation of public taste 
in real landscape, more immediately belongs to the higher landscape 
painters, among whom the higher painters of every kind may generally 
be included ; but there are circumstances which are likely to prevent 
them from succeeding in a task for which they are so well qualified. In 
the first place, they have few opportunities of giving their opinion, being 
seldom employed in improved places — certainly not in representing the 
improved parts — for there is a strong repugnance, of which the owners 
themselves are aware, in him who has studied Titian, Claude, and 
Poussin, and the style of art and of nature that they had studied, to 
copy the clumps, the naked canals, and no less naked buildings, of Mr. 
Brown. Besides, if they are employed at all, it is after all the altera- 
tions have been made ; whereas the architect frequently begins his work 
before, or at the same time with the improver. The painter, also, might 
be suspected of sacrificing too much to the particular purposes of his 
own art — a suspicion which narrow-minded artists in every line will 
often justify. But the architect would apparently be making a sacri- 
fice of his own art to that of painting, though in reality he would have 
the solid glory of combining them both, and of following the example 
of the greatest painters ; some of whom united the two professions, 
while numbers of them displayed in their pictures the beauty and the 
grandeur arising from a union of the two arts. 

Much of the naked solitary appearance of houses, is owing to the 
practice of totally concealing, nay sometimes of burying, all the offices 
under ground, and that by way of giving consequence to the mansion ; 
but though exceptions may arise from particular situations and circum- 
stances, yet, in general, nothing contributes so much to give both variety 
and consequence to the principal building, as the accompaniment, and, 
as it were, the attendance of the inferior parts in their different grada- 
tion^. It is thus, that Virgil raises the idea of the chief bard, 



" Musseum ante omncs, medium nam plurima turba 
Hunc habct, atquc humeris extantem suspicit altis." 

Of this kind is the grandeur that characterises many of the ancient 
castles;* which proudly overlook the different outworks, the lower 
towers, the gateways, and all the appendages to the main building ; 
and this principle, so productive of grand and picturesque effects, has 
been applied with great success by Vanbrugh to highly ornamented 
buildings, and to Grecian architecture. The same principle (with those 
variations and exceptions that will naturally suggest themselves to 
artists) may be applied to all houses. By studying the general masses, 
the groups, the accompaniments, and the points they will be seen from, 
those exterior offices, which so frequently are buried, if not under ground, 
at least behind a close plantation of Scotch firs, may all become useful 
in the composition ; not only the stables — which often indeed rival the 
mansion, and divide the attention — but the meanest offices may be made 
to contribute to the character of the whole, and to raise, not degrade, 
the principal part. The difference of expense between good and bad 
forms is comparatively trifling ; the difference in their appearance im- 

[These remarks are extremely just ; yet how often have we to deplore 
the mistake which we see committed, of building up a certain quantity 
of good materials into a mass, remarkable for its deformity, when they 
might have been just as easily put together in a pleasing form, at the 
same expense, or even perhaps with a less expenditure. Then, again, 
how often do we see beauty of form altogether sacrificed to fineness of 
material, and smoothness of polish. These last are of the highest value 
in urban architecture ; but although I do not say that there are not 
situations where they may be likewise estimated in the country, I hold 
that, in general, the perfection of all rural architecture depends more 
upon its form than upon any thing else. In a city, each building must 
necessarily be of regular plan. In the country, I think the more irregu- 
lar the plan of the house — whether it be cottage, villa, manor-house, 
or castle — the better. The stables, and all the other useful offices 
belonging to the house, should find a place, though a subordinate 
one, in the group of buildings which the architect has to put down, 
and it is of great importance that some lines of attachment should be 
created to give them absolute connection ; for nothing looks so ill as 
such subsidiary buildings being placed near to, yet unconnected with, 
the dwelling-house. So many subjects brought together, give greater 

[See head-piece to this Architectural Essay. — E.] 



scope to the inventive powers of the architect, in his endeavour to work 
them into good combinations ; and the necessity of the connecting lines, 
of which I have just spoken, begets additional opportunities of design, 
in the shape of low walls, balustrades, and terraces — altogether produc- 
tive of an effect infinitely more rich, picturesque, and interesting, than 
any thing that can be created where a strictly uniform architectural 
house has been erected. — E.] 

Another cause of the naked appearance in houses is the change in the 
style of gardening. While the old style subsisted, the various archi- 
tectural ornaments, the terraces, summer-houses, and even the walls, as 
varied by different heights and breaks, took off from the insulated look 
of the house. On that account, however stiff and formal the gardens 
themselves, the whole composition was much less so than at present, 
when from that love of extreme simplicity, as well as of smoothness and 
undulation, the pasture ground frequently comes up to the hall door ; 
so that a palace seems placed in a field, while the palace itself, in point 
of effect, is a mere elevation. 

The appearance of one of these houses has often brought to my mind 
that part of the story of Aladdin, where the Genius of the Lamp takes 
up a magnificent palace from the place where it stood, carries it into 
another region, and sets it down in the midst of a meadow. One might 
suppose that this Genius had been very busy in England ; but though 
the Genius of the bare and bald is not so powerful in his manner of 
operating, or so amusing in his effects, as that of the lamp, yet in this 
particular he rivals him ; for though he cannot take up a house from 
the midst of its decorations, and place it in a meadow, he has often 
made all decorations vanish, and a meadow appear in their place. 

This bareness is still more out of character in the foreground of an 
ancient castle, or abbey ; yet such a foreground is immediately made, 
when a building of that kind is unfortunately within the circuit of a 
gentleman's improvements. Fountain's Abbey I never saw, but have 
heard too much of the alterations, which luckily were not quite completed. 
There is, however, an ancient castle which I have seen, since that boasted 
improvement took place, of making it stand in the lawn. The lawn 
has so entirely subdued and degraded the building, that had I not 
known it was really an ancient castle, I might have mistaken it for a 
modern ruin — nor at a distance would the real size have undeceived me ; 
for the old foss having been filled up, and the surface levelled and 
smoothed to the very foot of the building, the whole had acquired a 
character of littleness, as well as of bareness, from the flat naked ground 
about it. 



By filling up the fosses of a castle, its character as a castle is greatly 
destroyed ; by removing the trees and brushwood, and levelling and 
smoothing the rough irregular ground, its effect to the painter, and its 
character as a ruin, are no less injured. What a system of improvement 
must that be, which universally destroys character, and creates mono- 
tony ! 

I lately observed the same effect produced by the same cause on natu- 
ral masses of stone, in a walk near Matlock. The walk led towards the 
principal feature, a rock — which I had been greatly struck with from be- 
low, and was eager to get a nearer view of. On approaching it, I hardly 
could believe it was the same, but did not immediately conceive the 
cause of my disappointment. I had allowed for the bad effect, in such a 
scene, of a gravel walk with regular sweeps and borders ; but, besides 
that, the ground had been cleared, levelled, and turfed from the edge of 
the walk to the foot of the rock, and round it, into all its hollows and 
recesses. Though an immense mass of stone, it hardly appeared natural ; 
but seemed rather as if it had somehow been brought and erected at an 
enormous expense in a spot, which, as far as the improvements extended, 
so little suited its character. 

Painters not only represent trees accompanying ruins, but almost in 
contact with splendid buildings in their perfect and entire state. Such 
an accompaniment adds still greater variety and beauty to the most 
beautiful and varied architecture, and by partial concealment they can 
give an interest almost to any building, however formal and ugly. In 
the pictures of Claude, the character of which is beauty and cheerful- 
ness, detached architecture, as far as I have observed, is seldom un- 
accompanied with trees ; continued buildings (as in some of his sea- 
ports) more frequently so ; for he seems to have considered them in 
some measure as views in cities, and consequently as belonging to 
architecture rather than landscape. Poussin, who at one period of his 
life affected a severe and dry simplicity in his figures, and a neglect of 
what have been called the meretricious parts of the art, from the same 
turn of mind, sometimes introduced both temples and houses of regular 
and perfect architecture, and totally detached and unaccompanied, into 
his landscapes ; where, from his judgment in placing them, they have 
a grand, though a lonely, cheerless aspect, and unsuited to ideas of habita- 
tion ; but more commonly his buildings also, are richly blended with 
trees. The examples of naked buildings in pictures, bear indeed no 
proportion to those which are more or less accompanied by trees ; the 
exact reverse is true with respect to improved places and this difference 
has so material an influence on the beauty and character of everyplace. 



that the reasons of it are well worth examining ; but as the introduc- 
tion of such accompaniments might be thought to arise merely from 
the fancy of painters, I will first observe, that a fondness for trees near 
the house is not confined to lovers of painting, but prevails among 
nations of very opposite characters, and as opposite climates. 

The Turks, it is well known, are by their religion forbidden to cul- 
tivate the art of painting, and have been constantly at war with all the 
fine arts ; but their love of trees near their houses is carried to a degree 
of passion and reverence, of which many singular instances have been 
related by travellers. It may be said, that in a warm and dry climate, 
such a passion is not at all surprising ; the same objection, however, 
cannot be made to instances from Holland, where the detached houses 
are frequently half surrounded by trees, where the canals are regularly 
planted with them, and their boughs (which at Amsterdam are never 
trimmed up) come close to the windows. It is clear, therefore, that 
the industrious Dutchman, who employs every foot of the territory 
which with so much labour and expense has been rescued from the sea, 
is no less fond of them than the indolent Turk, who inhabits a country 
where property is not endeared, nor its value enhanced by security. 

Notwithstanding this instance from a foggy climate, I imagine the 
fear of dampness would be one of the principal reasons which the 
owner or the improver would allege, for not admitting large trees in 
the foreground of a real habitation, though the painter may place them 
near an imaginary building. But the number of trees which an inhabit- 
ant of Holland, without fear of inconvenience, plants close to his 
house, is by no means necessary to picturesque composition. A very 
few, even a single tree, may make such a break — such a division in the 
general view — as may answer that end ; and most certainly will not 
make any great addition to the dampness. 

A second objection which improvers will naturally make, is, that trees 
must obstruct the view from the windows. In regard to their being 
obstructions, or considered as such, that will partly depend upon the 
judgment with which they are placed, and partly upon the owner's turn 
of mind. "Whoever prefers, in all cases, a mere prospect, (and in that 
light every unbroken view may be looked upon,) to a prospect of which 
the accompaniments had been, or seemed to have been, arranged by a 
great painter, will think every thing an obstruction that prevents him 
seeing all that it is possible to see in all directions. But he who is con- 
vinced that painters, from having most studied them, are the best judges 
of the combinations and effects of visible objects, will only look upon 
that as an obstruction, which, if taken away, would not merely let in 



more of the view, but admit it in a happier manner in point of composi- 
tion; and whoever has felt the extreme difference between seeing distant 
objects, as in a panorama, without any foreground, and viewing them 
under the boughs, and divided by the steins of trees, with some parts 
half discovered through the branches and foliage, will be very loth to 
cut down an old tree which produces such effects, and no less desirous 
of creating those effects by planting. Still, however, it may be objected, 
that though such trees may greatly improve the composition from some 
particular windows, they may injure it from others — this is an objection 
that I wish to state fairly, and in its full extent. It is certainly very 
difficult to accompany the best objects in the most favourable manner 
from one point, without obstructing some of them from others ; and it 
is extremely natural, that a person who is used to admire a favourite 
wood, a distant hill, or a reach of a river from every window, should 
not without difficulty prevail on himself, to hide any part of them from 
any one of those windows, though for the sake of giving them tenfold 
effect from other points. I will here suppose (what is very rarely if 
ever the case,) each circumstance in the more distant view to be so 
perfect, that there was nothing which the owner would wish to conceal; 
and that the trees he might plant, would be solely for the purpose of 
heightening beauties, not of masking defects. Still, without some objects 
in the foreground, this view, however charming, would be nearly the 
same from each window ; whereas, by means of trees, each window 
would present a different picture, and the charm of variety, though 
some of the variations should be unfavourable, ought to be taken into the 
account. It is more probable, however, than even those windows whence 
the objects would be most concealed, might present certain portions of 
the more distant view across the branches and foliage in so picturesque 
a manner, that a lover of painting would often be more captivated by 
them, than by a studied composition. 

I have endeavoured in all I have stated, to point out some of the 
advantages that are gained, by breaking with trees, an uniform view 
from a house, and to obviate some of the objections to such a method ; 
and I have done it more fully, because the opposite system has strongly 
prevailed. I do not mean, however, to assert that such breaks are 
always necessary, or expedient; though in my own opinion, it can seldom 
happen that a view will not be improved, from one or more trees, rising 
boldly above the horizon. Where fine old trees are left, they plead 
their own excuse ; but for many years there is a poverty in the appear- 
ance of young single trees, that may well discourage improvers from 
planting them, though they may clearly foresee the future effect of each 



plant, and wish for old trees in those positions. That poverty may be 
remedied, by making dug clumps in most of the places fixed upon for 
single trees, and by mixing shrubs with them. This produces an imme- 
diate mass; the temporary digging and the shelter, promote the growth 
of the trees intended to produce the effect ; by degrees the shrubs may 
be removed entirely, or some left to grouj} with them, as may best suit 
the situation ; and, as they get up, the boughs may be opened and 
trained, so as to admit, or exclude what is beyond them, just as the 
planter thinks fit. 

I now come to another objection, viz. that they conceal too much of 
the architecture. And here I will allow, however desirous I may be of 
varying the composition from the house, and of softening too open a 
display of symmetry, that great respect ought to be paid to such works 
as are deservedly ranked among the productions of genius, in an art of 
high consideration from the remotest antiquity. Whenever the im- 
provement of the view would injure the beauty or grandeur of such 
works, or destroy that idea of connection and symmetry, which, though 
veiled, should still be preserved, such an improvement would cost too 
dear. But in buildings, where the forms and the heights are varied by 
means of pavilions, colonnades, &c, there generally are places where 
trees might be planted with great advantage to the effect of the build- 
ing, considered as part of a picture, without injury to it as a piece of 
architecture ; and in the placing of which accompaniments, the painter 
who was conversant with architecture, and the architect who had studied 
painting, would probably coincide ; and this, I think, may more strongly 
point out the difference I mentioned before, between the style which 
suits a town only, and that which might suit both town and country. 
A square, detached house in the country, while it requires trees to make 
up for the want of variety in its form, affords no indication where they 
may be placed with effect ; they will indeed diminish the monotony, 
but will not, as in the other case, so mix in with the buildings, as to 
seem a part of the design of an architect-painter. 

The accompaniments of beautiful pieces of architecture, may in some 
respects be compared to the dress of beautiful women. The addition 
of what is no less foreign to them than trees are to architecture, varies 
and adorns the charms even of those, who, like Phryne, might throw 
off every concealment, and challenge the critic eyes of all Athens as- 
sembled. Men grow weary of uniform perfection ; nor will any thing- 
compensate the absence of every obstacle to curiosity, and every hope 
of novelty. It is not probable, that Phryne was ignorant or neglectful 
of the charms of variety and of partial concealment ; and if the most 




perfect forms may he rendered still more attractive by what is foreign to 
them, how much more those which have little or no pretensions to beau- 
ty ! How many buildings have I seen, which, with their trees, attract 
and please every eye! But deprive one of them of those accompaniments, 
what a solitary deserted object would remain! I will not go on with the 
parallel, but I believe the effect would in both cases be very similar. 

It may very naturally occur to any reader, and without the desire of 
cavilling, that if painters sometimes did, and sometimes did not 
accompany their buildings with trees — if both they and architects some- 
times did, and sometimes did not vary the lines, heights, and dispositions 
of their buildings — the same liberty, according to the author's own prin- 
ciples, ought to be allowed to the improver. Nothing can be more just ; 
and I should be very sorry to be suspected of having combated the des- 
potism of others, in order to establish any arbitrary opinions of my own : 
but a physician must proportion his remedy to the degree, as well as to 
the nature of the disease ; and bareness, monotony, and want of con- 
nection, are in a high degree the diseases of modern improvement. Had 
the opposite system prevailed, (and in the revolutions to which fashion 
is subject, it may still prevail) had all buildings of every kind been en- 
cumbered by trees, or had they, from a rage for the picturesque, been 
fantastically designed, with an endless diversity of different heights and 
breaks, with odd projections and separations — I should equally have taken 
my arguments from the works of eminent painters as well as of archi- 
tects, against such a departure from all grandeur, elegance, and simplicity- 

The best preservative against flatness and monotony on the one hand, 
and whimsical variety on the other, is an attentive study of what con- 
stitutes the grand, the beautiful, and the picturesque in buildings, as in 
all other objects. An artist who is well acquainted with the qualities of 
which those characters are compounded, with their general effect, and 
with the tendency of those qualities if carried to excess, will know when 
to keep each character separate — when, and in what degree, to mix 
them, according to the effect he means to produce. 

The causes and effects of the sublime and of the beautiful have been 
investigated by a great master, whose footsteps I have followed in a 
road, which his penetrating and comprehensive genius had so nobly 
opened. I have ventured indeed to explore a new track, and to dis- 
criminate the causes and the effects of the picturesque from those of the 
two other characters ; still, however, I have in some degree proceeded 
under his auspices — for it is a track I never should have discovered, 
had not he first cleared and adorned the principal avenues. 

With respect to the sublime in buildings, Mr. Burke, without entering 



into a minute detail, has pointed out its most efficient causes ; two of 
which are succession, and uniformity. These he explains and exemplifies 
by the appearance of the ancient heathen temples, which, he observes, 
were crenerally oblong forms, with a range of uniform pillars on every 
side ; and he adds, that from the same causes, may also be derived the 
grand effects of the aisles in many of our own Cathedrals. But although 
succession and uniformity, when united to greatness of dimension, are 
among the most efficient causes of grandeur in buildings, yet causes of 
a very opposite nature (though still upon one general principle) often 
tend to produce the same effects. These are, the accumulation of 
unequal, and, at least apparently, irregular forms, and the intricacy of 
their disposition. The forms and the disposition of some of the old 
castles built on eminences, fully illustrate what I have just advanced ; 
the different outworks and massive gateways ; towers rising behind 
towers ; the main body perhaps rising higher than them all, and on one 
side descending in one immense solid wall quite down to the level below 
— all impress grand and awful ideas. 

As I have in a former part made intricacy a characteristic mark of 
the picturesque, I may possibly be accused of inconsistency in making 
it also a cause of grandeur. It might be sufficient to say that there 
are other qualities common to the sublime and to the picturesque, such 
as roughness and abruptness, and that, therefore, intricacy might be in 
the same class. I shall not, however, be satisfied with that general 
defence, but shall endeavour to account in a more satisfactory manner 
for this seeming inconsistency. There appear to be various degrees 
and styles of intricacy. Hogarth, as I have mentioned on a former 
occasion, in speaking of the effect of those waving lines which steal 
from the eye, and lead it a kind of wanton chase, has termed it the 
beauty of intricacy, which I have endeavoured to distinguish from the 
more sudden and abrupt kind which belongs to the picturesque ; I will 
now point out what I conceive might be called with equal propriety 
the sublime of intricacy. 

When suspense and uncertainty are produced by the abrupt intricacy 
of objects divested of grandeur, they are merely amusing to the mind, 
and their effect simply picturesque.* But where the objects are such 
as are capable of inspiring awe or terror, there suspense and uncertainty 
are powerful causes of the sublime ; and intricacy may, by those means, 
create no less grand effects than uniformity and succession. An avenue 
of large and lofty trees, forming a continued arch, and terminated by 

* Essay on the Picturesque, Chap. IV. 



bhe gateway of a massive tower, is a specimen, and no mean one, of* the 
grandeur arising from succession and uniformity. On the other band, 
many forest scenes are no less striking examples of the grandeur of in- 
tricacy. In the avenue, all is simple and uniform in the highest degree, 
and the eye is totally fixed to one point — to one focus. In the forest scene, 
trees of different shapes and sizes cross each other in numberless direc- 
tions, while other parts of the wood are mysteriously seen between their 
trunks and branches. Instead of one straight walk or road without 
any variation, uncertain tracks appear, wild and irregular as the trees 
and thickets through which they pass ; instead of one solemn mass of 
foliage that hides the sky and its effects, gleams of light, issuing, per- 
haps, from stormy and portentous clouds, shoot athwart the glades, 
and, by discovering part of the recesses, show how deep the gloom is 
beyond. The grandest of all landscapes, the San Pietro Martire of Titian, 
is in part a scene of this kind. The assassination is committed amidst 
lofty trees, at the entrance of a forest — a supernatural light from a 
glory of angels is mixed in with the foliage and branches of the trees, 
and conceals part of their summits — two horsemen in armour, the one 
turning his head back towards the assassins, the other pushing for- 
ward, are seen at some distance just entering the depth of the forest, 
and forcibly carry the eye and the imagination towards its dark and 
intricate recesses. But in this model of the sublime in landscape we 
see none of those singularly curved and twisted stems and branches, 
as in the old trees of Bloemart, of Ruysdael, and others of the Dutch 
and Flemish schools, nor their playful variety of bushes, scattered 
thickets, and catching lights, not even the more noble and animated 
wildness of Salvator's stems and branches — but the whole character of 
the picture seems to be an exact medium between the savage grandeur 
of that sublime though eccentric genius, and the sedate solemn dignity 
which usually characterises the landscapes of Poussin. 

The same kind of difference subsists between the intricacy of the 
pinnacles and fret work of Gothic architecture, and that more broad 
and massive kind of the towers and gateways of ancient castles. Mr. 
Burke observes, that the sublime in building requires solidity, and even 
massiness ; and, in my idea, no single cause acts so powerfully, and 
can so little be dispensed with as massiness ; but as massiness is so 
nearly allied to heaviness, it is — in this age especially — by no means 
a popular quality ; for in whatever regards the mind itself, or the 
works that proceed from it, the reproach of heaviness is, of all others, 
the least patiently endured. It is a reproach, however, that has been 
made to some of the most striking buildings, both ancient and modern. 



It might be thought somewhat strained to suppose, that the most 
fashionable style of writing in any age should at all influence the cha- 
racter of other arts ; yet something of the same general taste is apt to 
prevail in them all during the same period, and a distaste for what- 
ever is opposed to it. Voltaire was, without comparison, the most 
fashionable writer of this century ; and, in addition to the charms of 
the lightest and most seducing style, he did not neglect any occasion of 
insinuating its excellence. For fear his writings should be thought 
too light and superficial, compared with others of a more solid and 
argumentative kind, he turned the keen edge of his wit against any 
appearance of that quality, which has been so ridiculed ill Vanbrugh's 
architecture. He called the great Dr. Clarke — it must be owned with 
some humour, however unjustly — " une vraie machine a raxsonne- 
m rut;" and, indeed, he summed up the whole matter in one short 
maxim, which equally characterises his mind and his style — " II riy 
a qu'un mauvais genre ; c'est le genre ennuyeux." 

Among the various remains of ancient temples, none, perhaps, have 
so grand an effect as the old Doric temples in Sicily, and at Pactum ; 
though, from their general look of massincss, and from the columns 
being without bases, none are more opposite to what are usually con- 
sidered as light buildings ; but may it not be doubted, whether the 
giving of bases to those columns, and consequently a greater degree of 
lightness and airiness to the whole, might not proportionally diminish 
that solid, massive grandeur, which is so striking to every eye ? If, 
again, we consider modern buildings, no mansion of regular, finished, 
ornamental architecture that I have yet seen, has, from such a number 
of different points, so grand an appearance as Blenheim ; and never 
was the reproach of heaviness so unceasingly applied to any building. 
It would hardly be supposed that the heaciness of Blenheim would 
ever have been mentioned as a compliment to the noble owner; yet I 
remember hearing an instance of it. The conversation happened to 
turn upon the immense weight that an egg would support if pressed 
exactly in a perpendicular direction ; — no weight, they said, would 
break it. A person who was sitting at some distance from the Duke 
of Marlborough, called out to him, " My Lord Duke ! if they were to 
put Blenheim upon it, egad, I believe it would crush the egg." 

How far the heaviness of the ancient temples or of the modern palace 
might be diminished, without diminution of their grandeur, may be a 
question ; but I believe it is very clear, that after a certain point, as 
they gained more in lightness, they would become less majestic, and, 
beyond that again, less beautiful. 



The same principle seems to have guided the highest painters in re- 
spect to the human figure. The Prophets and Sybils of M. Angelo, 
Raphael, and Fra. Bartolomeo, are all of a character and proportion, 
which, in buildings, would be called massive. Tibaldi, and after him 
the Caracci and their disciples, formed their style upon those famous 
models ; and they had a peculiar word (sagomcb) to express that ful- 
ness and massiveness of form as opposed to the meagreness of Man- 
tegna, Pietro, Perugino, and almost all the earlier painters. Particular 
exceptions may indeed be produced — as, for instance, the Moses of Par- 
meggiano, so highly and so justly admired by the poet Gray. That, like 
all his figures, is of a more lengthened proportion, and the body thinner 
than those of the other masters whom I ha